Pharmacists' Role in Supporting Medication Adherence

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When patients do not stick to their prescribed regimen, they end up inappropriately using health resources and revisiting emergency departments needlessly.

Stephen Eckel, PharmD, MHA, BCPS, FCCP, FASHP, FAPhA, describes the effect of nonadherence on the health care system. When patients do not stick to their prescribed regimen, they end up inappropriately using health resources and revisiting emergency departments needlessly. For this reason, he says medication adherence should be a considered factor when developing health care and hospital policy.

Beyond providing education and coaching for patients, Eckel says pharmacists should consider new strategies when supporting patients and medication adherence. Some medication packaging, for example, may promote better adherence for certain patients than the standard prescription vial. Additionally, throughout a patient’s transition from a hospital setting to their home, pharmacists should monitor whether or not a patient continues to receive the medications that are best for him or her and best for insurance purposes.

Eckel notes that throughout the entirety of a patient’s transition of care, from a hospital setting to a community or ambulatory setting, the one constant presence is the pharmacist. For this reason, pharmacists are uniquely placed to be held accountable for making sure patients take their medications.

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