Community Pharmacist Network Improves Patient Medication Management

Independent community pharmacists can network across diverse practice settings to improve patients' adherence to health-promoting prescription drug regimens.

By networking, independent community pharmacists can achieve dramatic improvements in medication compliance and patient health, according to a new study of appointment-based medication synchronization (ABMS) services.

With ABMS services, all patient medication refills are consolidated to a once-monthly pick-up with the opportunity for more extensive pharmacist consultation, prescription drug regimen review, and ways to address any barriers to medication adherence. By simplifying the pharmacy’s workflow, the pharmacist has more time for valuable patient interactions and other services that help improve health outcomes.

The year-long study, conducted by Jacob T. Painter, PharmD, MBA, PhD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and colleagues for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) with support from Pfizer, measured the collective impact of ABMS services provided by 82 independently owned community pharmacies across Arkansas. The pharmacies operated on 13 unique pharmacy management systems and provided standardized ABMS services using Simplify My Meds (an ABMS program developed by NCPA) and StarWellness (the medication synchronization module through PrescribeWellness).

Data were collected retrospectively from May 7, 2014, to May 31, 2015. Study participants were required to have two 30-day-or-greater prescriptions for a medication treating a chronic condition. Nine classes of drugs were examined: beta blockers, biguanides, calcium channel blockers, dipeptidyl peptidase-IV inhibitors, non-warfarin anticoagulants, renin-angiotensin system antagonists, sodium glucose transporter-2 inhibitors, statins, and sulfonylureas. Enrollees and controls were matched on medication class, pharmacy urbanicity, follow-up time, age, and sex. Adherence was measured using the proportion of days covered, and nonpersistence was examined using the date of discontinuation of an eligible chronic medication.

Patients who received ABMS services were 2.57 times more likely to be adherent with their medications compared with patients who did not receive ABMS services. When comparing persistence, ABMS enrollees were 21% less likely to discontinue their prescription drug regimen than matched controls.

Investigators said the study demonstrates that the “high-touch” community pharmacy-based ABMS can significantly improve patient adherence and persistence.

“The study shows that a diverse group of independent community pharmacies can unite to provide consistently high-quality adherence services and positively affect patient health outcomes—and measure that impact,” NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, said in a statement.