This is the third article in a series on medication adherence.
Once a patient is discharged from the hospital, medication management is largely his/her sole responsibility. While many patients can manage this, others struggle: 12% of patients do not fill prescriptions at all, and patients with chronic conditions normally take only 50% of prescribed doses. However, there are some tools that community pharmacists can implement in order to make medication self-management easier for their patients. The two tools this post will focus on are medication synchronization and adherence packaging.
Medication Synchronization is an easy-to-implement solution to help ensure patients aren’t forgetting about any medications or missing refills. In this process, pharmacists work with the prescribing physician to synchronize the refill dates of prescriptions so that patients only have to make one trip to the pharmacy each month to get their meds. Medication synchronization should be considered for people on multiple medications, as it simplifies keeping track of a refill schedule. As patients already have to remember how many times a day to take each med, as well as the specific times for each, having to remember only one refill date makes managing multiple medications easier.
Beneficiaries of Medication Synchronization
Although most patients can benefit from medication synchronization it’s especially valuable for patient types that have difficulties with medication adherence such as:
- Elderly patients, who may require transportation assistance to the pharmacy and may not be able to make multiple trips
- Patients suffering from a disease such as Alzheimer’s, who may not remember that a medication needs to be refilled if it falls on a different date than other medications
- Patients on complex regimens for multiple chronic conditions, who already have a lot to remember and coordinate
Scheduling all of a patient’s refills for one date ensures that a prescription pick-up is not missed because it fell at a different time of month.
One tool that automatically syncs medication refills is adherence packaging. Often organized in blister packs, adherence packaging is prepared by a pharmacist for a patient taking multiple medications and offers many benefits.
With adherence packaging, medications are pre-sorted by a pharmacist and organized by day of the week and time of day to simplify complex medication regimens. All of a patient’s medications can be sorted into the same blister pack, ensuring that all refills and medications are managed properly.
Additionally, adherence packaging helps patients keep track of when they need to take a medication and allows them to see if they have already taken it. This prevents missed doses and “doubling-up” which often results when patients forget that they already took their meds that day.
Please share your thoughts below and don’t miss the next post in this series discussing the importance of digital reminders and other tools patients can use to stay adherent to their medication.
View the previous post on medication adherence here.