Today’s pharmacist does a lot more than fill prescriptions. While dispensing medication was once their primary role, community pharmacists are recognizing the increasing need for clinical services in the pharmacy. As pharmacists consider new avenues to expand their services, adherence programs should be at the top of their list.
Adherence programs in community pharmacies can directly benefit both the patient and the pharmacy. From improved medication adherence and patient outcomes to a boost in pharmacy revenue and customer loyalty, adherence programs are a worthy investment. Keep reading to learn the value that adherence programs can bring to community pharmacies.
Patient Benefits of Community Pharmacy Adherence Programs
The most obvious benefits of adherence programs can be seen on the patient level. When patients do not adhere to their medications, hospitalization rates, healthcare costs, and preventable deaths increase significantly. Unfortunately, about 25% of prescriptions are never filled, and about 50% of patients with chronic conditions do not take their medication as prescribed even when picked up at the pharmacy.
COVID-19's impact on medication adherence in the United States has caused even more challenges for patients, providers, pharmacists, and health plans. The need for in-pharmacy adherence programs is greater than ever as a result of the pandemic, and community pharmacists are in a prime position to help.
Pharmacists are frequently ranked among the most trusted professions, and independent pharmacies are ingrained in their communities. Patients see their pharmacists more times per year on average than their primary care physician, offering more touchpoints to improve adherence.
Medication synchronization programs, medication consultations, and clinical interventions in the pharmacy can carry a lot of weight with a patient. Patients may be more likely to listen to and trust their local pharmacist, and they often interact with their pharmacist more than their provider. Adherence programs can benefit patients in a variety of ways, including:
- Improve patient outcomes and quality of life
- Provide added convenience
- Reduce hospital admissions or readmissions
- Decrease healthcare spending and out of pocket costs
- Reduce negative medication side effects or drug interactions
Benefits of Adherence Programs for Community Pharmacy
The importance of adherence programs is clear for patients, but how can they benefit the community pharmacy? Designing and implementing adherence programs in independent pharmacies requires a great deal of investment. Both time and money are required to start an adherence program in the pharmacy as well as workflow changes, awareness campaigns, and staffing resources.
Despite the costs, adherence programs can have significant long-term benefits for community pharmacies.
- Increased patient interactions build trust with patients and boost customer loyalty.
- Added convenience improves patient satisfaction.
- Syncing refills can improve workflow efficiency and optimize daily operations.
- Increased patient adherence can bring in more revenue for the pharmacy.
What do community pharmacies need to start an adherence program?
Before a community pharmacy can start an adherence program, the barriers to adherence must be identified. Understanding why patients do not take their medications as prescribed can help facilitate important conversations in the pharmacy and enable the pharmacy to target adherence programs for the needs of their community.
Reasons why patients do not adhere to their medications vary and may differ by community or region. Some common barriers to adherence include:
- High medication costs and out of pocket costs
- Lack of understanding about medications, side effects, and expected results
- Drug interactions between multiple medications
- Lack of symptoms and no immediate impact on patient’s quality of life
- Negative beliefs about medication or medication efficacy
- Fear or anxiety about medication
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
Once barriers to adherence are identified, the community pharmacy can design adherence programs that meet patients where they are. The best adherence programs are patient-centric, allowing for individualized care plans instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
Community pharmacies also need the right technology and technology partner to facilitate a medication adherence program. Pharmacists must be able to follow a patient throughout their journey, tracking medications and refills, taking notes, and documenting interactions. Technology resources like text messaging and emails, scheduling tools, and telepharmacy capabilities can all help a community pharmacy establish a robust adherence program.
How to Start a Community Pharmacy Adherence Program with Limited Resources
If you are lacking time and resources to start an adherence program, there are solutions to help you through the process. The right partner can provide in-workflow clinical opportunities that do not disrupt your current operations, like the Clinical 360 from TDS. An optimized pharmacy management system provides in-workflow alerts and allows you to address adherence issues while the patient is in the store.
You can also find a partner with a clinical call center to help lighten the burden of starting an adherence program. TDS has a clinical call center staffed with trained pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that contact patients and carry out interventions on behalf of a pharmacy, saving time for the pharmacist and their staff. These resources enable community pharmacies to start an adherence program without investing a great deal up front.
Community pharmacies can partner with TDS to start an adherence program. With in-workflow alerts, scheduling and telehealth tools, patient engagement tools, and a clinical call center, TDS provides the resources and support community pharmacies need to build and maintain adherence programs.