Patients who opt in to medication synchronization programs offered via their community pharmacy stay on their therapy much longer and are much more likely to adhere to their prescriptions, a new study project by the National Community Pharmacists Association found.


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NCPA: Synchronization programs boost adherence

January 15th, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Patients who opt in to medication synchronization programs offered via their community pharmacy stay on their therapy much longer and are much more likely to adhere to their prescriptions, a new study project by the National Community Pharmacists Association found.

NCPA said Wednesday that the medication adherence study, conducted with technology partner Ateb, monitored more than 1,300 patients enrolled in medication synchronization programs at 10 independent pharmacies nationwide. The pharmacy coordinated patients' chronic prescription medications to be filled on the same date each month.

Patients using synchronization services averaged 103 more days on therapy than those not enrolled in such a program, (337 versus 234, respectively). What's more, nearly 90% of patients who got synchronized refills were adherent, as measured by the Proportion of Days Covered (PDC), compared with 56% of patients not getting synchronized refills.

In terms of scripts, patients in medication synchronization programs had an average of 3.4 more refills per prescription over a 12-month period than non-enrolled patients, according to the study. The average enrolled patient took 5.9 synchronized medications. Participating pharmacies filled 20 more prescriptions per year on average for those patients.

Also, first-fill abandonment — prescriptions that are initially filled but never refilled, despite having refills remaining — was reduced by more than 90% for patients using synchronization services.

The patients in medication synchronization programs received a monthly call from their pharmacy to discuss medications and dosage instructions, determine if any doctor visits or hospitalizations may have changed medication therapy, and confirm that the patient needs the medication before it's dispensed.

NCPA noted that the study is the first to examine a group of independent pharmacies that aren't under common ownership and don't use the same pharmacy management system. The pharmacies in the study used Ateb's Time My Meds online adherence platform to identify patients for enrollment and manage the daily operations of the pharmacies' medication synchronization programs.

"This study confirms that a personalized medication synchronization service delivered by community pharmacies is impactful, scalable and able to be replicated in any community pharmacy," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "It's also further evidence of the positive impact that these and other types of pharmacy-provided services can have on patient health. As trusted, accessible medication experts, community pharmacists are ideally positioned to counsel patients and ensure they take medications as prescribed and understand their importance to better health."

Other key findings of the study included the following:

• Using $56 per script revenue and $12.50 per script gross margin figures from the 2013 NCPA Digest, the additional 20 fills from synchronization programs translates to $1,120 of additional revenue and $250 of additional gross margin per enrolled patient. Based on 100 enrolled patients per pharmacy, that means $112,000 of additional revenue per pharmacy per year and another $25,000 per year of gross margin. The higher-volume pharmacies in the study generated much higher returns based on patient counts, well in excess of 100 patients, and fill lifts above these averages, NCPA said.

• Using automation enabled the pharmacies to boost the number of enrolled medication synchronization patients by more than 35%.

• Automation yielded 0.75 to one additional fill per medication per year for prescriptions managed through the automated program versus the manual program.

According to NCPA, an estimated 1,600-plus community pharmacies are offering medication synchronization services to over 70,000 patients nationwide via established medication synchronization programs. Those include NCPA's Simplify My Meds program, which is used by more than 1,100 independent pharmacies across the country.

The new study and Simplify My Meds program are part of NCPA's Pharmacists Advancing Medication Adherence (PAMA) initiative, sponsored by the Cardinal Health Foundation, Merck and Pfizer.

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