By John A. Galdo, PharmD
Patients do not always take medications. So, how can we, as community pharmacists, help our patients better adhere to their medications? Three thoughts emerge when discussing patient adherence: education, medication synchronization, and a medication employment list. Any of these tools or tips will work on increasing a patient’s adherence. Utilizing these tips might range from educating patients that their carvedilol will prevent a cardiovascular event, or ensuring that patients pick up all eight of their medications on the 16th of every month. But a great and simple tip is to have our patients write down their medications and “keep it with them.”
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pushed the benefits of the “Keep It With You” (KIWY) form. The KIWY form is a CDC developed and published document that acts as a personal medical information database. It is a simple one-page form that captures the majority of necessary medical information from current medications to physician contact information. As a pharmacist, we could create a customized version of this form, which I have done and we use in our pharmacy, but the KIWY form can still impart major benefits as is.
Many of our patients do not know their own medications. That makes medication adherence that much more difficult. This barrier covers a wide spectrum. Do patients know how to refill a medication? Do they remember to take their blood pressure medication in the morning? If patients do not know they are prescribed furosemide, then they will not ask for refills. The KIWY form captures this missing step in health care, ensuring that patients know all of their medications, and not just prescriptions. As an additional benefit, the KIWY form can help physicians and pharmacists operate on the same page of care. Some patients do not know their physician’s name or phone number. Again, the KIWY form has this information. It is provided by the CDC free of charge. The major barrier to using the KIWY form seems to be the time spent helping patients fill it out, but the benefits to their health care outweigh that.
The best way to assist patients with adherence is to help educate them about the medications they are using. We do this by ensuring that they write their medications on a form. Even if we have patients who do not want to use the KIWY form, we still help them write their medications on a simple piece of paper for their wallet. Adherence can increase simply by having patients know their medications and to keep it with them. The form can be accessed at www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/kiwy.asp
Reprinted with permission from National Community Pharmacists Association in the April 2012 issue of America’s Pharmacist. For more information about NCPA, visit www.ncpanet.org.