It is not uncommon for a patient to leave the physician’s office not understanding the information conveyed. Bob Lomenick, pharmacist and owner of Tyson’s Drugs in Holly Springs, MS, has found a solution to one health communications problem.
Lomenick became frustrated because so many patients took their medications haphazardly. He explains some of his frustration: “Patients come to see [their doctor] and are prescribed, say two prescriptions. They go home and forget to take their meds as prescribed and often do not realize how long they have skipped doses. They become sicker and go back to the doctors who do not realize the patients have not been following instructions. So they prescribe more medications because the patients are clearly not improving. Now patients have five prescriptions they take as haphazardly as they took the first two.”
Lomenick discovered a program developed by The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management called RxSync Service. This program was already successfully implemented by other pharmacists across the country.
This innovative program synchronizes and schedules prescription refills, monitors patients monthly for adherence, and provides pharmacists with opportunities for patient consultation and recommendations to physicians.
The RxSync Service synchronizes and schedules prescription refills. Pharmacists using this service report fewer missed medication dosages and greater adherence to physician instructions about those medications.
The pharmacist synchronizes by filling all chronic meds on the same day each month. Patients whose medications are filled on the same day become a “work group.” This method of filling prescriptions allows the pharmacist to identify any adherence problems, and the refill quantities are adjusted so no medications can accumulate.
Prescriptions are filled 2 to 3 days before they are due. Batch filling ahead of time saves time, as the pharmacist can review orders as a batch. Any shortages can be delivered to the pharmacy before the prescriptions are due. If the pharmacy provides a delivery service, these deliveries can be coordinated, saving time and cost.
This scheduled group-prescription refilling aids in inventory reduction, and thus cash outflow, because the pharmacist always knows what is needed ahead of time.
To facilitate patient/physician/pharmacist communication, Lomenick uses a Parata Pass machine to dispense each medication dose in small bags with the patient’s name, time dosage is due, name and strength of medication, directions for taking, and an optional bar code for bedside scanning.
The medications to be taken at one time are dispensed in one small packet; those taken at other times of the day are dispensed in separate packets. Patients and caregivers can tell at a glance when the last dosage was taken and when the next one is due.
This program promotes communication among all parties. Pharmacies benefit because they are more efficient and profitable while managing and improving patient compliance. Patients benefit because they are healthier as a result of compliance with their medications. Physicians benefit because they are more in control of their patients’ adherence.
Margaret Delashmit is a freelance writer and editor in the health and education sectors. She holds a PhD in English and an MS in Health Communications. In a previous life, she was an English professor. Margaret lives with her husband and two dogs in a small town in the Greater Memphis area.