ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Both patients and pharmacists give high marks to medication synchronization programs, according to a recent survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association.
NCPA said Monday that the poll of member pharmacies using its Simplify My Meds (SMM) program asked several open-ended questions, and respondents “overwhelmingly” noted that med sync has raised efficiency in their pharmacy and balanced their workflow.
The pharmacies surveyed also reported that patients are satisfied because the program translates into fewer pharmacy visits each month, creates opportunities for them to discuss their medications with the pharmacist, and establishes more certainty in their refill process.
“Med sync programs, such as Simplify My Meds, are critical to achieving greater patient adherence,” NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. “Nonadherence to medication is estimated to cost the health care system as much as $290 billion annually through necessitating costly procedures or hospitalizations that could otherwise have been prevented. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has established Star Ratings measures for Medicare prescription drug plans that are largely dependent on patient adherence.”
Comments on the benefits of med sync from patients and pharmacists surveyed included the following:
• “We have patients that want to join SMM because they live 15 miles or so away, and they don’t want to come into the pharmacy several times a month. It benefits us as well as the patient.”
• “I had a patient that was on 17 medications, and her insurance recently changed. I was able to talk with her about this during the follow-up call so that we could fix the issue before she came into the store. It saved us and her time from having to rerun all the prescriptions through her insurance when she came in.”
• “We have a few families that have several family members on medications, which caused them to be in the pharmacy at least once a week. Thanks to med sync, a busy mom/dad only has to come in once a month for the entire family. Every month they thank us for taking the burden of calling in the meds every month and worrying about running out of refills. They wait for our call every month and feel reassured that all they have to do is show up on their due date, and everything will be ready.”
• “It has helped us reduce physical inventory. We don’t have to keep expensive and uncommon meds in stock. I can order the med a few days ahead of time if the patient needs it. Our staff doesn’t have to rush and fill the prescriptions, since we fill the batches a few days ahead of the due date. Patients don’t have to worry about meds being out of refills and only have to come in once a month.”
• “We know what days of the month our patients need their meds, which make the workflow much easier.”
• “It has enhanced our workflow for larger-order patients in particular. We now know they have specific medications due at certain times and allows us to ensure all fills completed in timely fashion before the patient picks up the medications.”
Simplify My Meds is used by more than 2,600 independent pharmacies nationwide, either as a stand-alone platform or with other technologies, NCPA reported. The association noted that the survey showed that some community pharmacies use a technology vendor to facilitate their med sync program and leverage SMM for marketing and promoting the med sync service. Overall, more than 10,000 community pharmacies across the country provide med sync services.
Designed as a turnkey medication adherence solution, the free Simplify My Meds program provides pharmacies with tools and training to implement a med sync service. According to NCPA, some pharmacies have seen as much as a 30% increase in prescriptions and sales from participating patients.
“Med sync is yet another individualized service independent pharmacies can offer patients to set them apart from their competitors and simultaneously boost adherence ratings,” Hoey stated. “Furthermore, a 2013 study called ‘Medication Adherence in America: A National Report Card’ found that the leading indicator of patient adherence was their personal relationship with their pharmacist. Med sync programs provide monthly opportunities to grow these critical relationships.”