Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor
In 2009, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy partnered with 3 health care organizations to develop a multidisciplinary medication therapy management (MTM) model
. Two years later, the program has yielded significant benefits, both for students and patients, and has even earned national recognition.
According to Nancy Ripp Clark, medical director at Mercy Health Clinic in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the program has helped provide underserved patients with medication reviews while extending to fourth-year pharmacy students and pharmacy residents the opportunity for experiential rotations.
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy teamed up with ALFA Specialty Pharmacy of Columbia, Maryland, the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, and the free, not-for-profit Mercy Health Clinic to provide MTM in an interprofessional model. At Mercy, patients who are high risk or who have multiple medical conditions and medications are referred to MTM for medication reviews and management. The team includes 3 pharmacists, 2 physicians, 2 nurses, 2 pharmacy residents, and 3 pharmacy students at a time, in addition to language interpreters, nutritionists, and social case workers when needed. In the first 18 months, 130 patients have been seen and more than 1000 medications reviewed, according to the school.
Each pharmacy student sees 5 patients every Thursday, after which they review the patients’ medications, take their blood pressure and pulse, and discuss any side effects. There have already been a number of instances in which input from students and pharmacists have resulted in a change to a patient’s medication regimen that has resulted in improvements.
The program recently received the Promising Practice Award of Excellence from American Diabetes Association, a testament to the hard work that has been demonstrated from multiple members of the care team.
“Pharmacists provide in-depth health care and excellent teaching,” said Clark. “As pharmacists they have given us insight into certain channels for ordering certain types of medications. They are very up to date on medication interactions and side effects.”
According to Rosemary Botchway, MS, director for the Center for Medicine Access at the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, the program now offers free access to 38 generic drugs. In addition, through a program called Medbank, pharmaceutical companies provide free brand-name medications to individuals who can’t afford to buy their medicine.
For students, the MTM model serves multiple purposes in education, according to Heather Congdon, PharmD, CACP, CDE, assistant dean for the School of Pharmacy’s campus at the Universities at Shady Grove, where many of the students rotating at Mercy are enrolled. “The education the students received here crosses health care lines. There is no limit to what can be learned in such a collaborative atmosphere.”
Faramarz Zarfeshan, RPh, a pharmacist who volunteers in the program, said that the MTM model has “a huge potential for the pharmacy profession to impact the general health of the American population, while reducing national health care costs. Many patients go to multiple doctors of different practices. Here all of this can be channeled in a central location.”
Zarfeshan said that pharmacists “are in a great position to give the patient the right information. We have a vision to make a difference for the health care system.”
Does your school of pharmacy have a similar program, or another initiative that has resulted in improved patient care? If so, tell us about it by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!