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All pharmacists have the skills needed to implement effective medication therapy management, and the rewards are many.
Medication therapy management (MTM) has become an essential service in the community pharmacy. In order to remain competitive in today’s market, pharmacists must be able to offer this opportunity to patients. MTM not only allows pharmacists to optimize individualized drug therapies but its overall purpose helps a health care team ensure effective health care across the board.
How does a pharmacy team incorporate MTM into its daily work flow practices? By increasing patient interactions, offering effective communication and counseling using open-ended questions, and improving health care professional relationships, any community pharmacy team has the ability to optimize medication use.
MTM can involve a number of unique components. In the community pharmacy setting, it is important to understand your patient population and work flow to effectively apply the components. Confidence and good communication play a large role in offering reliable and accurate counseling tips and recommendations. Patients and health care professionals must be comfortable with a pharmacy team’s willingness and approach to maximize MTM.
Skills required for MTM are practiced throughout the pharmacy on a daily basis. The key is to expand upon those skills and use trust—the backbone of the pharmacy profession—to be able to form collaborative units within the health care field. Identifying drug interactions, patient satisfaction and compliance, duplicate therapy, and cost-saving opportunities are all vital ways to intertwine MTM into being an essential part of your work flow.
Outcomes for MTM are numerous. By being able to incorporate MTM into your work flow, you will not only see results for individual patients but your community pharmacy as a whole. Satisfaction will ideally help curb the concept of “pharmacy shopping” and promote loyalty. As professional relationships among patients and health care professionals are developed and expanded, trust is an inevitable outcome.
Medication adherence—a direct result of effective counseling and therapy management— will help streamline work flow and allow more free time for the pharmacy team to focus on providing valuable care. In the past, the pharmacist has essentially operated as the sole intermediary between the provider and the patient. Documentation, thorough communication, and follow-up in the community pharmacy setting can help bridge gaps, and allow the pharmacist to be viewed as an invaluable component and resource for the entire health care team.
A pharmacy team can interact with a patient (with or without an appointment) more than once a month, whereas a provider usually sees patients only when there is an immediate problem or during an annual visit. That advantage gives the community pharmacy a unique opportunity to reach out to patients, using a tool such as MTM, for a more successful follow-up and overall care.
Patients with common chronic conditions such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma have been targeted by corporations in recent years. By understanding a disease state and the therapy required to treat it, a pharmacist can effectively double-check the work of any provider and prove to be a valuable resource. Initial comprehensive medication reviews can open the door into how a patient adheres to chronic regimens and therapy. Having the opportunity to get an overall picture of the patients being treated in your pharmacy will only enhance treatment.
Using SOAP notes, or a Subjective Objective Assessment Plan, to concisely document your pharmacist-patient interaction allows you to quickly share tips and recommendations with the health care team. Opportunities may also arise during interviews and chart reviews where a community pharmacy can offer a variety of immunizations and screenings based on a patient’s response to an open-ended concern. These opportunities will result in patients relying less on more expensive alternatives and make them comfortable utilizing the community pharmacy for more than just a drug stop.
Community pharmacies that offer MTM services will be rewarded in the long term. Up-to-date pharmacists who can explain complex concepts and treatment regimens on all levels are an essential bridge between the provider and patient. Making the time to incorporate MTM into your daily work flow has many benefits for the pharmacy, the pharmacy team, and the patient. It is important to remember that common sense skills, along with learned skills, will help guide you through the MTM process.
By understanding your patient population and knowing your health care team, counseling points and recommendations will help pharmacists stand their ground as trusted professionals. Documentation will help guide the pharmacy team to gain the respect from outsiders who are reviewing just how valuable and indispensible we all are as pharmacists.
Dr. Drury works as a clinical pharmacy specialist in Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned her doctor of pharmacy from Midwestern University College of Pharmacy in 2007. In addition to her current work, she is a blogger for PharmacyTimes.com and a speaker for Abbott Pharmaceuticals.