NCPA Initiative Aims to Improve Medication Adherence

Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor
Published Online: Monday, August 22, 2011
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The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has launched a new initiative to improve medication adherence and reduce the costs of improper medication use for independent community pharmacists. Simplify My Meds provides pharmacists with the tools to help coordinate patients' prescription refills to a single day of the month. This model is designed to facilitate a more comprehensive and coordinated level of pharmacy care, reduce the potential for gaps in therapy, and promote improved medication adherence.

The program builds off of successful adherence programs pioneered by independent community pharmacy owners like John Sykora of Abrams and Clark Pharmacy in Long Beach, California, and Richard and Tripp Logan of L&S Pharmacy in Charleston, Missouri.

“Instead of wringing our hands about disappointing patient medication adherence rates that continue to hover around 50%, NCPA is proactively addressing this challenge by using what has worked and making it scalable for all community pharmacies," said B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of NCPA, in a statement. “Patients will live healthier lives and should experience lower overall medical costs as a result of this valuable face-to-face service from their community pharmacist.”

Research has confirmed the critical role that community pharmacists play in providing patients with the assistance necessary to maintain high levels of medication adherence. In particular, refill coordination at a single pharmacy is recognized as an effective tactic to improve adherence. A study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Managed Care found that restricting patient choice by requiring mandatory mail order actually caused some patients to prematurely discontinue therapy, posing serious health threats and the potential for increased medical expenditures.

The difference between Simplify My Meds and other auto-refill programs, according to NCPA, is the high-touch, personalized patient consultations each month—a process that allows pharmacists to identify any recent hospitalizations, especially those that may have resulted in changes in therapy. Studies have shown that medication misuse is a significant cause of hospital readmissions and can be prevented in nearly two-thirds of all cases.

Independent community pharmacies that have previously employed this practice have also seen positive results. By coordinating exactly what day patient refills occur, the independent pharmacy staff's workload is streamlined. Daily workloads become more predictable, labor costs go down, and staff stress levels decrease. Data analyzed from pharmacies using this model has shown as much as a 30% increase in prescription volume, a 50% decrease in labor costs, and $1.87 per script increase in gross margin.

“The community pharmacist is the expert team member who can effectively identify and resolve medication issues,” said Hoey. “Engaging in adherence practices is an important way for community pharmacies to enhance their business, improve patient care, and demonstrate to decision-makers, in both the public and private sector, that we can help achieve better care, better outcomes, lower costs, at a better value to the health care system."

Participating pharmacies will receive a detailed operations manual, access to training and help desk support, as well as a marketing kit to help make patients and health plan sponsors aware of the program's value and convenience.

Pharmacists interested in finding out more about the Simplify My Meds program can send an e-mail to adherence@ncpanet.org.

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