Friday, January 14, 2011

Talk to a Pharmacist: It's Good for Your Health

If pharmacists are up to the task, they could help save the U.S. healthcare system a lot of money – about $300 billion a year, to be exact.

Why? A recent study showed that of all the ways to try and get people to stay adherent to their medicines, pharmacists – talking to patients in the store – is the way to get the job done.

The runners up? Nurses – talking to patients who are leaving the hospital. Did everyone note that the words ‘talking to patients’ are in both paragraphs?

PMP News recently ran a story about a study in the American Journal of Managed Care. The study's researchers culled more than 6,000 articles before focusing on 168 of them.  The results: Of the 168 articles, 51 were reviewed and met the inclusion criteria for their analysis. Here is a summary of what the data suggest when there is person-dependent intervention:
  • 83% of interventions done at the pharmacy, in-person with a pharmacist, are the most effective.
  • 67% of interventions done at the time of hospital discharge with a trained professional were effective.
  • 47% of interventions done at the clinic were deemed effective.
  • 38% of interventions done over the phone were effective.
The researchers also found that “electronic interventions” – faxes, e-mails, and so on – can work too, but not as well. Among person-independent interventions, 56% of these types were successful, with electronic interventions being the most successful sub segment, representing 67%.

Obviously, people want meaningful contact – the opposite of what many patients may get in our country’s health care system.

We couldn’t agree more. The question is: What, if anything, will be done with the study’s results?

A look on Google showed that no major media outlet picked up on the study, which tells you that med adherence just isn’t sexy enough for the paparazzi, even with a $300 billion price tag. But it is for CVS.

A look at the company’s web site shows that medication adherence is a topic near and dear to its heart. Sure, for obvious reasons. But it’s also funding studies – check out the web site – to try and find answers to this huge issue. Which is more than others are doing.

We ask that you share these results with your colleagues, and consider developing an adherence initiative that motivates patients to adhere to their prescribed regimens. 

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