Part 1: MTM provides Value to Patients and Consumers
Whether you consider yourself a “patient” receiving medical care, or a “consumer” purchasing health and wellness products and services, you can benefit from Medication Therapy Management Services provided by a pharmacist.
Our healthcare system continues to evolve. Several models of healthcare delivery use a team-based approach to healthcare, providing care to patients when and where they need it, in a way that they can understand and fit into their lifestyles. The team-based foundation of care in these newer systems is more holistic and comprehensive than the traditional healthcare models of the past, and its goal is to maximize health outcomes for patients. These days, when we need healthcare, we’re likely to see not only our primary care provider, but a dietitian, a diabetes educator, a care coordinator, a physical or occupational therapist, or a pharmacist. Each of these healthcare professionals has special skills that can help people stay healthier and recover from illness. They may or may not share the same office space as the primary provider, but are part of the team, nonetheless.
A major component of improved health outcomes is medication use. Medications are a mainstay of treatment for many diseases, and if not used as prescribed they won’t provide the desired effect. But it turns out that over half of people surveyed say that they don’t use their medications as prescribed. Add to that those who mistakenly believe they are using their medications correctly (such as asthma inhalers which are estimated to be used incorrectly by over 90% of users), and it’s easy to see why the incorrect use of prescription medications is a big problem among patients and consumers. Incorrect use of medications carries high financial and health-related costs to individuals and to society overall.
There are many reasons for incorrect medication use, including cost of medications, misunderstanding of instructions, concern about possible adverse effects, forgetfulness, and others.
But there’s hope! The key to maximizing the health benefits of medications is communication. Talking about a new medication with the prescriber at the time a new prescription is written is extremely important in getting things started right, but ongoing communication with a pharmacist is the best way to stay on track for the long run.
It’s interesting how most workplaces require yearly competencies for staff members, and reminders are sent out for every appointment we make. Clearly our employers know that we need to be updated and reminded about appropriate work procedures and behavior, and companies know that sending appointment reminders increases the likelihood that appointments will be kept. But somehow we’ve neglected to use re-education and reminders to help people get the maximum benefit from medications. The more typical practice is to provide some information at the time a new prescription is written, then never really talk about it again other than to ask if it’s still being taken. Prescribers have many patients to see, and much as they want to, they typically cannot spend adequate time to re-educate and remind patients about medications.
Pharmacists are in a perfect position to stay in communication with patients. Pharmacists are accessible, in your neighborhood and on duty six or seven days a week. It’s very likely that you see your pharmacist more often than you see your prescriber. Best of all, pharmacists are the medication experts on the healthcare team! Most pharmacists have a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree, some even have a residency after 6 or more years of university training. Talking regularly with your pharmacist about your medications will help you use your medications correctly, use only the medications you really need, identify potential or existing adverse effects, and help you stay healthier and spend less on your healthcare!
BetterMyMeds can provide you with the information you need to get the most from your medicine. Contact us today!
Betty Chaffee, PharmD, is owner and sole proprietor of BetterMyMeds, a Medication Management service devoted to helping people get the maximum benefit from their medications.