Specialized Adherence Teams

By Christopher Daly

In today’s evolving cost conscious health care system there have been increasing talks centering on accountable care  organizations (ACOs), medical homes, and multidisciplinary teams. Where do these buzz words belong in improving patient outcomes in your pharmacy by expanding your current medication adherence program? The answer is quite simply to create a specialized medication adherence team for your patients.

Who would be on this team? Candidates must be able to help facilitate behavioral change when it comes to medication adherence. Some of the top candidates for this adherence team are doctors, the busy “sandwich” generation caregivers, and the pharmacist. This team can be assembled to synergistically be that ‘other’ voice in the patient’s ears about medication adherence.

Targeting and marketing to doctors can be as simple as sending a brochure explaining the benefits of your adherence program. Highlight the increased efficiency that would result from fewer calls for uncoordinated refills, therapeutic medication review opportunities, and identifying overall adherence issues. This will allow prescribers to identify their own medication adherence problem patients and begin to make referrals to your program. The physician knows that it is not enough to just trust their own patients to carry out the execution of the medication regimen. Make the doctor aware by enlisting a patient to an adherence program overlooked by a pharmacist will lead to better health outcomes. The patient ultimately benefits in the end.

Many times caregivers are behind a patient’s complex medication regimen. They are the liaisons and health care proxies who communicate to the health care professionals. These frazzled, busy individuals many times are juggling professional lifestyles and would benefit from the simplification of a medication regimen from an adherence program. Taking the time to pull these individuals aside to explain the benefit of your adherence programs can make all the difference. Some of the many benefits include fewer trips to the pharmacy, reduced number of phone calls to the physician for refill requests, and an increased understanding of their medication regimen. This little investment of time can help patients realize their adherence goals.

Marketing to doctors and caregivers about your adherence program is only the beginning. This program, like any other marketable niches, can service many local groups like long-term care and group homes. When you survey the needs of the community the possibilities and applications are endless.

Lastly, the buck stops with you, the pharmacist. You have the ability to identify the barriers while providing expertise, positive reinforcement, encouragement, and support to improve your patient’s medication adherence. To target certain individuals and officially make them aware and participate in your adherence program, you also invite them onto the patient’s medication adherence team.

In the end, incorporating this program into your service mix can help you manage these patients more efficiently and thoroughly. Do you have an adherence tip to share with colleagues? Email us at adherence@ncpanet.org

Reprinted with permission from National Community Pharmacists Association in the December 2011 issue of America’s Pharmacist. For more information about NCPA, visit www.ncpanet.org.

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