Patients who take multiple medications often find themselves pressed for time and struggling to remember to refill their prescriptions at the right time. Adherence to medication regimens is something that pharmacists and their patients should always address as a cornerstone of patient care. Pharmacists have the opportunity in their line of work to interact with and influence their patients on a direct level, and this personal care and attention can mean that patients take their medications as directed and remember to refill them more often. Pharmacists should take note of patients who may be missing a medication, skipping doses to save on refill costs, or may require an adjustment to their medication regimen.
Synchronization programs have been highlighted as a tool that is critical to improving medication adherence. For patients who are taking many medications a day, synchronization allows for these medications to be picked up all at once, rather than waiting for individual scripts to come in on different days of the week.
Synchronization allows for pharmacists to partially fill a patient’s prescriptions in order to keep refills on schedule. The National Community Pharmacist’s Association recently studied 1,300 patients who were enrolled in a medication synchronization program, reporting that patients who opted into a synchronization program averaged 100 more days of medication adherence per year and were 30% more likely to follow the correct dosing schedule for their prescriptions. Pharmacists can help to ensure that patients are adhering to their medication regime by verifying that they are on the right medication for their medical condition, ensuring patient participation by networking and discussing the patient’s goals for treatment and quality of life with their medications, and educating patients about new prescriptions and their illness or condition if they are faced with a sudden diagnosis. Pharmacists can ask questions that allow for constructive and helpful dialogue to begin, and educate their patents on the correct times to take their medication, check for possible drug interactions, and ensure that patients are aware of possible side effects of their medication. Pharmacists can also use this time to remind patients to stick to their medication schedule, and suggest tools for remembering the correct time to take medications if need be.
Community pharmacies play a unique role in the health of their clients and customers, allowing for healthcare, counsel, and education. Pharmacies can consider offering medication synchronization seminars that can offer patients one-on-one time with their pharmacist to discuss how their medication adherence is progressing over time. When patients pick up their medications, pharmacists can also use this time to address any concerns that a patient has regarding possible side effects, their medications overall effectiveness on their symptoms, and how well their medications are working together.