Alexandria, Va. - August 22, 2011
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), as part of a multi-faceted effort to reduce the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually due to improper medication use, has launched Simplify My Meds for its independent community pharmacy members. The innovative adherence program provides pharmacists with the tools to help coordinate patients' prescription refills to a single day of the month. This model facilitates a more comprehensive and coordinated level of pharmacy care, reduces the potential for gaps in therapy, and promotes improved medication adherence.
The program builds off of successful adherence programs pioneered by independent community pharmacy owners like John Sykora of Abrams and Clark Pharmacy in Long Beach, Calif., and Richard and Tripp Logan of L & S Pharmacy in Charleston, Mo.
"Instead of wringing our hands about disappointing patient medication adherence rates that continue to hover around 50 percent. NCPA is proactively addressing this challenge by using what has worked and making it scalable for all community pharmacies," said B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, NCPA executive vice president and CEO. "Simplify My Meds is an NCPA member benefit, but the true beneficiaries are the patients of these community pharmacies and health plan sponsors that support their patients' freedom to go to their local pharmacy. Patients will live healthier lives and should experience lower overall medical costs as a result of this valuable face-to-face service from their community pharmacist. It embodies the adage, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'' and pharmacists are positioned to make a big difference in the growing field of patient adherence."
Research has confirmed the critical role that community pharmacists play in providing patients with the assistance necessary to maintain high levels of medication adherence. In particular, refill coordination at a single pharmacy is recognized as an effective tactic to improve adherence. A recent study found that restricting patient choice by requiring mandatory mail order actually caused some patients to prematurely discontinue therapy, posing serious health threats and the potential for increased medical expenditures.
The key difference between Simplify My Meds and other auto-refill programs is the high-touch, personalized patient consultations each month. This "mini medication reconciliation" process is a cornerstone of the program and allows the pharmacist to identify any recent hospitalizations, especially those that may have resulted in changes in therapy (such as new medications or dosage adjustments). Studies have shown that medication misuse is a significant cause of hospital readmissions and can be prevented in nearly two-thirds of all cases.
Independent community pharmacies that have previously employed this practice have also seen tangible, positive results for their business. By coordinating exactly what day patient refills occur, the independent pharmacy staff's workload is streamlined. Daily workloads become more predictable, labor costs go down, and staff stress levels decrease. Data analyzed from pharmacies using this model has shown as much as a 30 percent increase in prescription volume, a 50 percent decrease in labor costs, and $1.87 per script increase in gross margin.
Hoey added, "Pharmacists can play a key role in facilitating proper medication use. The health care paradigm is shifting to more patient-centered, comprehensive, and efficient services. With the movement towards the Accountable Care Organizations concept and patient-centered medical homes, and especially during transitions of care, appropriate medication management is central to successful outcomes. The community pharmacist is the expert team member who can effectively identify and resolve medication issues. Engaging in adherence practices is an important way for community pharmacies to enhance their business, improve patient care, and demonstrate to decision-makers, in both the public and private sector, that we can help achieve better care, better outcomes, lower costs, at a better value to the health care system."
Participating pharmacies will receive a detailed operations manual, access to training and help desk support, as well as a marketing kit to help make patients and health plan sponsors (employers, etc.) aware of the program's value and convenience.
Simplify My Meds is the latest and most robust example of NCPA's focus on medication adherence. For example, NCPA's monthly magazine America's Pharmacist includes a regular feature "Adherence—It Only Takes A Minute," that offers practical advice for busy pharmacists. NCPA members also can access an online adherence calculator to help discover the potential profits that can be generated by incorporating adherence strategies into their business model.
Pharmacists interested in finding out more about the Simplify My Meds program can send an email to
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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