What Are the Benefits of Medication Synchronization in Independent Pharmacies?

FEBRUARY 22, 2017
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Cost, forgetfulness, and complicated medication regimens drive poor patient antidiabetic medication adherence. Medication synchronization can improve adherence by bundling medications, which helps decrease the frequency of pharmacy visits and reduce the negative effects of forgetfulness and complicated regimens.

The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association has published a study showing medication synchronization improves care quality and increases prescription volume in an independent pharmacy setting.

The pharmacy is a single-location independent community pharmacy providing vaccines, medication therapy management, and diabetes education services. The pharmacy determined the impact of medication synchronization by evaluating changes in Electronic Quality Improvement Platform for Plans and Pharmacies (EQuIPP) scores and sales volume.

Medication synchronization increased preventive medication use, improved overall prescription sales, and decreased high-risk medication risk in the elderly. The initiative modestly increased proportion of days covered for cholesterol-reducing agents, oral glycemic agents, and renin-angiotensin system antagonists.

Overall, prescription sales volume increased by nearly 5% in the program’s first 6 months. The program’s scheduled fills reduced peak patient demand because it shifted non-urgent tasks to less busy time periods.

Medication synchronization requires attentive, detail-oriented pharmacy staff but may be completed using paper or simple computer-based forms. Synchronization also helps staff target specific populations for vaccination and medication therapy management programs.

The EQuIPP ratings, a surrogate for often changing CMS rating guidelines, improved compared to baseline in the second 6 months after the program started. These programs can improve a pharmacy’s CMS gold star rating, which may be helpful for inclusion in preferred networks and best reimbursements.

High medication costs are a significant limitation to medication synchronization because patients must pay for all or many of their medications at one time. Educating patients to budget for their medication may prevent “sticker shock” associated with combined copays or cash prices.

The researchers conclude that independent community pharmacies can enact a medication synchronization program inexpensively to improve patient adherence and prescription sales. Improved patient outcomes can power support for pharmacy services reimbursements.

Reference

Hinson JL, Garofoli GK, Elswick BM. The impact of medication synchronization on quality care criteria in an independent community pharmacy. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2017 Jan 11. pii: S1544-3191(16)30891-3. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2016.11.008.
 

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