Innovative Technology Helps Manage Chronic Conditions

Pharmacy Times, September 2021 , Volume 87, Issue 9
Pages: 62

Digital health tools improve patient outcomes while expanding career opportunities for pharmacists.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the health care system globally, particularly affecting patients with chronic conditions.1

Many patients with disease states such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and hypertension are at high risk of contracting severe COVID-19, so it is especially important for this population to have access to medication therapy management (MTM) services to improve health outcomes.2 Evidence shows that implementing innovative pharmacist-led MTM services using technology tools such as telehealth during COVID-19 can help patients effectively manage chronic conditions.3 Aspen RxHealth and Tabula Rasa HealthCare (TRHC) are both innovative platforms for delivering MTM services (see Figure).

TRHC’S RxCompanion and MedWise

TRHC developed the MTM software platform RxCompanion, which can be used by community and health system pharmacists and health plans. RxCompanion includes a variety of features that help pharmacists identify and resolve medication-related problems and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, MTM services can be performed face-to-face, through video-based consultations, or via telephone and include more than 1000 clinical algorithms that identify and predict potential medication-related problems.4

TRHC’s MedWise, a unique evidence-based medication safety software that can enhance MTM services, uses a medication risk-mitigation matrix to prevent adverse drug events. Pharmacists can perform comprehensive medication reviews through it and use it to conduct a multidrug analysis of the complete medication profile. TRHC can also provide services for health plans and pharmacies via its in-house MTM clinicians.4

In an email interview, Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDCES, executive vice president for the Health Plan/Payer Business Unit of TRHC and president of the American Pharmacists Association, discussed the company’s MTM platform.

“We believe an MTM platform should empower a pharmacist to practice meaningful clinical pharmacy, regardless of their practice setting,” Leal said. “Our technology is used by over 10,000 community pharmacists, health system pharmacists, health plan pharmacists, and other telehealth providers.

“The clinical science behind our platform is a critical differentiator. As more of our population takes more medications, our platform’s ability to complete a simultaneous multidrug analysis through the new integration of our MedWise science empowers pharmacists like never before. In fact, a recent publication validated that the relative risk of experiencing adverse drug events identified by the MedWise risk score is predictive of premature death.”5

Leal added that the COVID-19 pandemic “really highlighted the importance of the pharmacist. We believe they are best suited to provide personalized and culturally competent care that drives better health outcomes, lower costs, and higher patient satisfaction if provided the best technology.”

Aspen RxHealth

Aspen RxHealth is an application-based MTM platform that pharmacists can access through a mobile phone or tablet. This flexible platform can expand career opportunities by allowing pharmacists to perform MTM services from anywhere through the app as long as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy laws are followed. The platform includes a variety of programs, such as medication reconciliation, MTM, quality measure initiatives, and specialty drugs. Pharmacists are matched to patients based on various factors, such as clinical expertise and geographical location. After pharmacists complete and submit their successful MTM consults, they receive payment directly, and Aspen RxHealth manages the administrative activities.6

Pharmacists can sign up with Aspen RxHealth and will be contacted if there are MTM opportunities in the areas where they are licensed. Once opportunities are available, a one-time $75 membership fee covers the background check, application setup, and ongoing training.

Martine Ferullo, PharmD, MBA, BCGP, is a pharmacist consultant at Aspen RxHealth who performs MTM services for patients with a variety of disease states, including asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and osteoporosis. In an email interview, she discussed her experience with the Aspen RxHealth platform.

“The platform allows a great connection between the pharmacist and the patient to discuss their medication plan and their intended treatment goals,” she said.

Ferullo documents patients’ OTC and prescription medications, evaluates them for potential problems, and develops and discusses the action plan.

“I feel that many patients really like it and appreciate [the service], and they feel that this is not just a collection of medications call. It is about building relationships and trust,” Ferullo said.

Jenn Cohen, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Aspen RxHealth, said in an email interview, “In recent years we have seen dissatisfaction among pharmacists reach all-time highs. The Aspen RxHealth model comes at a time when this profession is ripe for transformation, and we couldn’t be more proud to deliver the groundbreaking technology empowering pharmacists to regain control of their career and reach new levels of professional and personal satisfaction. We are a company built for pharmacists, by pharmacists and will continue innovating to ensure pharmacists are able to find purpose and joy in their careers.”

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, is a drug information pharmacist and Pharmacy Times® contributor who resides in South Florida.

REFERENCES

  1. Kretchy IA, Asiedu-Danso M, Kretchy JP. Medication management and adherence during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives and experiences from low-and middle-income countries. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):2023-2026. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.04.007
  2. People with certain medical conditions. CDC. Updated May 13, 2021. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html
  3. Como M, Carter CW, Larose-Pierre M, et al. Pharmacist-led chronic care management for medically underserved rural populations in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prev Chronic Dis. 2020;17:E74. doi:10.5888/pcd17.200265
  4. Medication therapy management solutions. Tabula Rasa HealthCare. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://sinfoniarx.com/mtm-solutions
  5. Ratigan AR, Michaud V, Turgeon J, et al. Longitudinal association of a medication risk score with mortality among ambulatory patients acquired through electronic health record data. J Patient Saf. 2021;17(4):249-255. doi:10.1097/PTS.0000000000000829
  6. An empowering opportunity built for pharmacists by pharmacists. Aspen RxHealth. Accessed April 10, 2021. https://aspenrxhealth.com/for-pharmacists/