Pharmacists, patients, and meds can all be in synch


Medication synchronization: Good for patients, good for business, and good for performance metrics.

B. Douglas HoeyU.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once said, “Drugs don’t work in patients that don’t take them.” Virtually everyone would agree that medications improve and prolong the quality of life for patients. Yet far too many people are nonadherent. According to research published earlier this year in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, four out of 10 people would be willing to accept some degree of risk of immediate death rather than take a daily pill to prevent cardiovascular disease. And almost one in 10 people would be prepared to sacrifice two years of life to avoid a daily pill.

See also: Update, Community pharmacy

Let me repeat. Nearly 10% of study respondents said they would give up two years of their lives if they could avoid having to take one cardiovascular medication a day. Furthermore, in this hypothetical situation, participants were told that the medication would be free and have no side effects, which makes the results even more stunning.

Community pharmacists play an essential role in resolving the medication adherence crisis in our country. Leading the way are independent community pharmacists -clinically trained medication experts - who offer Simplify My Meds (SMM). The program, which is often free for patients, helps pharmacists consolidate and coordinate patient prescriptions by aligning all their refills for pickup on the same day every month. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) provides the SMM turnkey operation to its members, and more than 2,500 independent community pharmacies are participating.

Clinical services

For example, Neil Leikach, RPh, is president and his wife, Dixie, is vice president of Your Community Pharmacy, which has three locations in Maryland and has been offering SMM for about a year. Nearly 200 patients are enrolled.

See also: Med synchronization through community pharmacies brings greater adherence

The main SMM marketers are the pharmacy’s cashiers, pharmacy technicians, and medication delivery drivers. Patients are targeted for the program if they exhibit nonadherent traits, have special-order items in their drug regimens, or take five or more medications.

Leikach has added a new wrinkle to his med-synch efforts by including additional clinical services that include among other things three separate medication reviews a year.

Management system

Another example comes from Kerri Okamura, RPh, who is director of pharmacy operations at KTA Super Stores and Waikoloa Village Market, which has multiple locations in Hawaii.

Since she launched SMM in January 2014, she has enrolled more than 300 patients through marketing efforts that include outreach to a local physicians’ group and participation in community wellness fairs.

Her pharmacy uses its pharmacy management system to help synchronize the medications. As a result of SMM, the pharmacy has seen a steady increase in revenue and in its Medicare Part D star ratings.


Calls and texts

Another success story comes from Tamara Ravn, PharmD, the managing pharmacist at Kewaskum Hometown­Froedtert Pharmacy, in Kewaskum, Wisconsin.

At the pharmacy, which is about two years old, SMM signups take place mostly at the point of sale, where patients with specific disease states such as heart failure, diabetes, and asthma are a special focus.

The pharmacy initiates phone calls and texts to patients to coordinate the refill pickup. In addition, patients eligible for medication therapy management (MTM) services are recruited for SMM.  

Business optimization

To assist pharmacies in implementing med-synch programs such as SMM, NCPA recently released a six-part instructional video series online, titled “Implementing Med Sync.”

In addition, NCPA is supporting research into use of technology-driven med-synch programs by independent community pharmacies. Recent NCPA studies show improved patient adherence, increased revenue streams, and overall improvement in business optimization for pharmacies.

These verifiable successes are especially important in light of the new emphasis on measurement of pharmacy performance through healthcare quality initiatives such as Medicare Star Ratings, where SMM can help pharmacies achieve higher scores.

Medication synchronization programs help improve adherence. That’s good for your patients, good for Star Ratings, and good for your business and your community.

B. Douglas Hoeyis CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (

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