MTM and medication adherence: There's just one problem

August 15, 2011

Want to make sure you get medication therapy management when you need it? Be very good friends with a pharmacist.

They obviously put a lot of thought into it. There were e-mails containing charts and graphs, links to scientific papers, and even an online tool to help decide which patients are at risk for not taking their medicine as prescribed. It was all very impressive stuff. And none of it was relevant to the world I see from behind the pharmacy counter.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I don't work to promote patient adherence. As I picked up the phone to talk to Merck's media man, I started thinking about a customer I had years ago, whose name was not Keith.

If ever someone needed the benefits of the type of pharmaceutical care we are equipped to provide, it was Keith. His multiple medical conditions were being managed by multiple doctors, none of whom ever seemed to be quite up to speed as to what the others were doing.

He was rushed through his contacts with the medical system at the speed of light, which more than once left him nervous and unsure about whether he even wanted to fill the new prescription in his hand.

Some days he didn't look well, and a simple "How you doing today?" led to a conversation that ended with a phone call to one of his doctors. When his worries about weight gain led him to buy some diet pills online, I was the only person on his medical team he trusted enough to ask about the side effects he was experiencing. Good thing, because I might have saved Keith a trip to the hospital that day.