Author: Candace DeMatteis
New tools test pharmacy readiness & detail standard “how to” aligned with Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process
Pharmacists across the country are adopting medication synchronization (“med sync”) programs to enable patients to pick up their chronic care medications at the pharmacy all at once, but programs vary and lack consistency. With new tools developed by the UNC Eshleman School of Pharmacy in collaboration with the Community Care of North Carolina and the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, pharmacies considering adding med sync services have powerful new resources to test their readiness, develop and implement well-defined med sync programs that align with the pharmacists’ patient care process. All tools are available online at no cost.
The growth of med sync hinges on the recognition of a common issue with people who take several medications: multiple trips to the pharmacy to get medicines because of different refill dates. “Med sync programs offer much more than convenience of refilling medicines all on the same day. Pharmacists are also using the opportunity to meet with patients, discuss their medications, and resolve any problems uncovered,” stated Stefanie Ferreri, PharmD, Executive Vice Chair and Clinical Professor in the Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education at UNC. Research shows that med sync programs can help improve medication adherence, a problem estimated to result in avoidable health problems for consumers and cost the healthcare system almost $300 billion a year. The potential for med sync extends beyond improving adherence, but a common definition of “med sync” and standards of practice are needed for consistent application and replication of success.
“Our research of the literature and real-world practice revealed wide variety in med sync efforts. We’ve seen similar issues with variety in what’s labeled ‘medication therapy management.’ The lack of a consistent definition for MTM has led to doubts about the effectiveness of these services,” explained Ferreri. These tools will improve consistency with med sync and enable programs to demonstrate positive impact on other outcomes and total cost of care. Co-author, Jordan Ballou, PharmD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, agrees. “Based on what we learned in this research, we have adapted our own med sync program at my practice site to maximize its effectiveness with our patients.”
Shifts in healthcare financing to paying for value instead of the volume of services and the need to engage patients to achieve better outcomes are driving an evolution in pharmacy practice. The tools are being piloted in a number of pharmacies within Mutual CPESNÒ in North Carolina, an affiliate of CPESNÒ USA, a clinically integrated network of pharmacy providers. “In our experience, aligning clinical activities with med sync drives workflow integration within the pharmacy and engages patients in a regular dialogue about the safety and effectiveness of their medications and self-management of their chronic illnesses. Working with patients to optimize the benefits of the medicines they are taking leads to better health outcomes and lower overall costs of care, and that’s what community pharmacy enhanced services are all about,” explained Trista Pfeiffenberger, PharmD, MS, Director of Operations and Quality for CPESNÒ USA.
The “how to” guide for med sync focuses on the changes that need to occur within the community pharmacy to implement a program that focuses on patient outcomes in addition to convenience. It is designed to help community pharmacists implement process changes that lead to measurable health improvements for their patients. “We’re focused on documenting what works and on making that knowledge available in ways that ease adoption,” described Ferreri.
The online survey tool helps to determine a pharmacy’s readiness to take on med sync. It’s also a part of ongoing research to capture pharmacies’ experiences.
The Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy (@UNC_CMOPP) at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy brings diverse stakeholders together to create impactful, real-world research, generate evidence, disseminate best practices and advance education to integrate medication optimization into value-based care delivery and payment models.
Review the “how to” change package online, take the online survey, and follow the Center for Medication Optimization for Practice and Policy on Twitter (@UNC_CMOPP) for additional research announcements.
Funding and Coauthors
Funding Opportunity Notice: “The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS331338 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. General Disclaimer: “The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies.”
Research Disclaimer: “The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies. The research presented here was conducted by the awardee. Findings might or might not be consistent with or confirmed by the findings of the independent evaluation contractor.”
Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy (CMOPP) UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education (PACE), UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Stefanie Ferreri, PharmD, CDE, BCACP, FAPhA
Michael Patti, PharmD Candidate
Chelsea Phillips Renfro, PharmD
Ashley Branham, PharmD, BCACP
Joe Moose, PharmD
Trista Pfeiffenberger, PharmD, MS
Department of Health Policy and Management, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Christopher Shea, PhD, MA, MPA
Kea Turner, MPH, MA
Department of Pharmacy Practice, The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Jordan Ballou, PharmD, BCACP