Medication Synchronization Program Yields Clinical, Financial Benefits

Using an appointment-based medication synchronization program can improve adherence rates among patients taking chronic medications, according to a new study published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

Using an appointment-based medication synchronization (ABMS) program can improve adherence rates among patients taking chronic medications, according to a new study published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy compared patients receiving ABMS with patients receiving usual care. Patients were included in the study if they were taking medications in 1 of 6 categories: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers; beta blockers; dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers; thiazide diuretics; metformin; and statins.

“An ABMS program in a community pharmacy setting was associated with higher rates of adherence and persistence for patients who had been taking chronic medications for at least 6 months,” the authors wrote.

Patients in the ABMS program experienced 3 actions: synchronization of medications so refills come due on a single day of the month; a monthly call from the pharmacy to the patient or family caregiver; and a scheduled appointment to pick up medications at the pharmacy and speak with the pharmacist if necessary.

The patients enrolled had been taking their chronic medications for at least 6 months. This patient population was chosen because nonadherence is more likely to occur in patients filling new prescriptions, and approximately half of patients discontinue therapy in the first 6 months.

The researchers found that participants in the ABMS program experienced adherence rates of 55% to 84%, depending on medication class, while participants with usual care only experience adherence rates of 37% to 62%. Overall, the odds of adherence were 2.3 to 3.6 times greater with ABMS. Usual care participants also became nonpersistent more often.

“This study shows that ABMS programs can improve medication adherence and persistence for patients who are newly prescribed or currently taking chronic medications,” the authors concluded.

In addition to clinical benefits, the findings about the ABMS program can have financial implications for health plans as improving adherence can help Medicare Advantage plans improve their star ratings, which in turn makes them eligible for bonuses and rebates, the researchers explained.