Patients Benefit from Pharmacy-Provided Medication Synchronization Programs



Alexandria, Va. Jan. 15, 2014 - Patients who opt in to medication synchronization programs offered through their community pharmacy average more than 100 additional days on therapy per year and are 30 percent more likely to take their medication as prescribed (or to be "adherent") than patients not enrolled in a synchronization program, according to the results of a new study project conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®).

The study conducted by NCPA and technology partner Ateb involved more than 1,300 patients enrolled in medication synchronization programs at 10 independent community pharmacies across the country. The pharmacy coordinated patients' chronic prescription medications to be filled on the same date each month.

Patients receiving synchronization services averaged an additional 103 days on therapy than those not enrolled in such a program (337 versus 234, respectively). Nearly 90 percent of patients who received synchronized refills were considered adherent as measured by the Proportion of Days Covered (PDC) compared to 56 percent of patients not receiving synchronized refills.

Moreover, these gaps in medication coverage were reduced along with the provision of adherence-supporting services from the community pharmacies that patients do not typically receive through mail order auto-refill shipments. Patients in the medication synchronization program received a monthly call from their pharmacy to discuss medications and dosing instructions; to determine whether any physician visits or hospitalizations may have changed medication therapy; and to confirm that the patient needs the medication before it is dispensed. The biggest predictor of medication adherence is patients' personal connection (or lack thereof) with a pharmacist or pharmacy staff, according to Medication Adherence in America: A National Report Card.

"This study confirms that a personalized medication synchronization service delivered by community pharmacies is impactful, scalable, and able to be replicated in any community pharmacy," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "It's also further evidence of the positive impact that these and other types of pharmacy-provided services can have on patient health. As trusted, accessible medication experts, community pharmacists are ideally positioned to counsel patients and ensure they take medications as prescribed and understand their importance to better health."

Other key findings from the study:

  • Patients enrolled in a medication synchronization program received an average of 3.4 more refills per prescription over a 12-month period than non-enrolled patients. The average enrolled patient was taking 5.9 synchronized medications. Participating pharmacies filled 20 more prescriptions per year on average for these patients.
  • First-fill abandonment (prescriptions that are initially filled and never refilled despite having refills remaining) was reduced over 90% for patients enrolled in the medication synchronization program.

The NCPA study is the first study to look at a group of independent pharmacies that are not under common ownership and do not operate the same pharmacy management system. Pharmacies used Ateb's Time My Meds® online adherence platform to identify patients for enrollment and to manage the daily operations of the participating pharmacies' medication synchronization programs.

Estimates indicate that more than 1,600 community pharmacies are providing medication synchronization services to more than 70,000 patients nationwide through established medication synchronization programs, including NCPA's Simplify My Meds™ program, which is utilized by more than 1,100 independent community pharmacies nationwide. The new study and Simplify My Meds program are part of NCPA's Pharmacists Advancing Medication Adherence (PAMA) initiative, which is sponsored by the Cardinal Health Foundation, Merck, and Pfizer.

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