UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and HealthPartners collaborate to study medication management in community pharmacies
The University of North Carolina, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and HealthPartners seek to address public health issues surrounding taking prescription medications safely and effectively by studying medication therapy management (MTM) services in over 130 community pharmacy locations in Minnesota.
Some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in health care are ensuring that patients are prescribed optimal medications for their unique needs, that patients are able to take them as prescribed, and that the medications are safe and effective. About 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled and about half of medications for chronic diseases are not taken as prescribed. This is estimated to cause the deaths of about 125,000 people every year and at least one in ten hospital admissions.
“Pharmacists will be working with patients and other members of their health care team to support improvement of health by optimizing the use of their medications,” said Jason Varin, an assistant professor in the U of M College of Pharmacy and community pharmacist. “MTM services can improve overall patient health outcomes by ensuring that medications provide the most benefit, potentially decrease the overall costs of care and improve patients’ health care experiences.”
“By encouraging patients to engage with their local pharmacist, we are hoping more conversations between patient and pharmacist will center around the best way to manage and improve their health,” said Varin.
In more than 90 percent of visits, pharmacists providing MTM services identify at least one opportunity to improve or change a patient’s medication regimen.
“Almost half of all Americans use at least one prescription medication so medication management is important for optimizing health outcomes,” said Young Fried, vice president of pharmacy plan services at HealthPartners. “MTM service benefits to patients can include reducing side effects, identifying more affordable medications and making sure that medications are working as they should and not having any harmful interactions. All of these things can improve the quality of life for patients and reduce medical costs.”
The research focuses on patients who have HealthPartners insurance and have high blood pressure, heart disease and/or diabetes. In 2021, researchers at the University of Minnesota will assess the program to see the impact that MTM has on:
- decreasing blood pressure among patients with hypertension to be less than 140/90;
- helping patients become tobacco free;
- reducing blood sugar (A1C) to less than 8 percent among patients with diabetes.
In addition to supporting patients in their efforts to improve health and medication use, HealthPartners, U of M College of Pharmacy and University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy will assess program implementation to further analyze the feasibility of making MTM services accessible to patients across the U.S.
The program is funded by grants from the National Association for Chain Drug Stores Foundation, the University of North Carolina Eshelman Institute for Innovation and the Minnesota Department of Health in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control.
“NACDS Foundation Collaborates in Major Effort to Advance Medication Management.” NACDS Foundation, 11 Mar. 2020. Press Release.
“University of Minnesota Twin Cities and HealthPartners collaborate to study medication management in Minnesota.” University of Minnesota, 11 Mar. 2020. Press Release.