Based on a recent survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association, about 74 percent of regular prescription medication users say being enrolled in a pharmacy-based medication synchronization program helps them take their medications, and 84 percent say med sync helps them manage their prescription refills. Yet, only 13 percent of regular prescription medication users age 40 years or older are enrolled in a med sync program. Given those numbers, the challenge for independent pharmacies is twofold. First, how do pharmacies get more of their customers enrolled in their medication synchronization programs given the clear benefits? And second, once customers are enrolled, how do pharmacies drive the maximum clinical and business value from their programs?
Below are 10 tips for independent pharmacies on how to get more out of their medication synchronization programs.
1. Hold med sync appointments with each patient once a month. By having regularly scheduled meetings, patients are more likely to keep them, more likely to be prepared and more likely to know what to expect from each session with the pharmacist.
2. Use motivational interviewing techniques during each med sync appointment. The five general principles of effective motivational interviewing by clinicians are: expressing empathy through reflective listening; highlighting the discrepancy between the customer’s goals and their current behavior; avoiding confrontation; adjusting to rather than directly opposing customer resistance; and supporting customer self-efficacy and optimism. Following the five approaches allows a pharmacist to review all of a patient’s medications during a single visit and address any potential adherence barriers or concerns.
3. Piggyback a medication therapy management session with a med sync appointment. By doing this, a pharmacist not only ensures that a patient is filling his or her prescriptions but filling the right prescriptions for their documented medical conditions. The pharmacy also can simultaneously bill for an MTM session or a Comprehensive Medication Review, if the patient is eligible.
6. Create monthly health themes for med sync appointments. The monthly themes can be linked to national health occasions like American Health Month in February or National Immunization Awareness Month in August. This approach drives patient engagement in med sync and creates topics for patient-pharmacist conversations during the sessions.
7. Test med sync and scale and expand with experience and expertise. Like any new venture, pharmacies should start small with their med sync programs. Piloting med sync with a small number of patients per month who are taking two or more maintenance medications will help pharmacies develop and master the scheduling skills and session expertise required to expand their programs to more patients and at more pharmacy dispensing sites.
8. Add med sync to the pharmacy’s monthly performance scorecard. Pharmacies should create med sync performance measures, add the measures to their clinical and financial performance dashboards, benchmark where they’re at with those measures, set performance objectives and track their progress against those goals. The measures may include such metrics as percentage of patients enrolled in their programs, number of prescriptions filled through their programs and prescription revenue generated through their programs. What’s measured can be improved, and pharmacies should apply the same approach to their medication synchronization programs.
9. Maximize med sync efficiency by minimizing disruption to pharmacy workflow. If a pharmacist does four med sync sessions a day, that’s four less hours available for other responsibilities like filling new prescriptions and seeing customers. Pharmacies should integrate their med sync sessions into their workflows to maximize efficiency and minimize expensive operational disruptions. One approach may be filling med sync prescriptions uninterrupted during off hours. That means more time during med sync sessions for MTM or CMRs and less time filling prescriptions during a normal busy day.
10. Collaborate and coordinate med sync with community prescribers. Some complex prescriptions medications and specialty drugs must be administered to patients in physician offices or medical clinics. Pharmacies can work with those offices and clinics to deliver the medications at regular times to ensure they’re available to patients during their appointments. That collaborative and coordinated approach improves adherence and may generate more business from the offices and clinics whose patients need their regular prescriptions filled.
By acting on these 10 tips, independent pharmacies can optimize the clinical and financial outcomes of their appointment-based medication synchronization programs.
Related: Learn about McKesson’s medication adherence and clinical performance solutions for independent pharmacies.
1 National Community Pharmacists Association, National Adherence Survey: The Promise and Prospects of Medication Synchronization (PDF, 572 Kb); August, 2014