With a coordinated, interprofessional team supporting them, patients are empowered with information at the point-of-care to help manage medication therapy problems as they arise.
Medicine is the primary way we treat disease, and we’re still getting it wrong. Approximately 75% to 80% of physician office and hospital outpatient clinic visits involve medication therapy, and nearly 30% of adults take 5 or more medications.1
At the same time, more than 275,000 people die each year, with $528 billion in medications wasted due to poorly managed medications. The current trial-and-error approach to medication management in health systems may be the cause.2
Each stakeholder, including employers, clinicians, health systems, policymakers, has a role to play in solving this problem. However, it is especially important for pharmacists and physicians to step up and ensure medications are safe, effective, and appropriate for that specific patient.
In many ways, the problem underpinning poor medication management strategies in health systems comes down to communication; health care systems are not successfully closing the feedback loop between physicians and pharmacists relating to medication use. Several factors come into play around this communication breakdown:
A lack of benefit plan design integration creates a disconnect between health care clinicians. We must start reintegrating pharmacy services into the medical benefit and patient care models. PBM carve-out strategies create fragmentation and hide insight around total cost of care, and coordination of care suffers. This siloed approach to benefits management often disaggregates care delivery and discourages high-quality, comprehensive patient care. Moreover, true attribution of ROI and savings is often lost.
A lack of transparency prevents pharmacists, physicians and other prescribers from seeing the whole patient picture. All members of the patient care team should have full access to all relevant clinical information at the point of care. Physicians frequently lack access to a patient's complete medication list, and pharmacists also often lack access to the patient’s medical history and treatment goals.
A lack of team-based care leaves physicians isolated and burned out. It also fosters a piecemeal approach to treatment, with each provider working in a silo. A team-based approach, where a medication expert works in collaborative practice with the physician, can lower the total cost of care and help patients achieve the clinical goals of therapy.
Health care systems are working to tear down these hurdles. We aren’t there yet, but that doesn’t mean pharmacists and physicians can’t work together to ensure medications are optimized.
The 5 Questions
By asking these 5 questions to every patient, physicians and pharmacists can bypass hurdles and ensure patients receive the right medication.
All these questions come down to this: Does your patient have access to the right medications for them? That’s the question comprehensive medication management seeks to answer.
Getting the Medications Right
Comprehensive medication management starts with the health care experts. Patients deserve a coordinated, interprofessional team, empowered with information at the point-of-care, available to deal with medication therapy problems. Physicians and pharmacists, working together, can begin to make that happen.
About the Author
Katherine H. Capps is co-founder and executive director of The Get the Medications Right™ (GTMRx) Institute, a coalition of over 1,600 members calling for medication management reform to bring together critical stakeholders across health care.