BIRMINGHAM, AL - Dec. 15, 2011
In recognition of the important role pharmacists can play in improving medication adherence, the National Consumers League, the nation's oldest consumer advocacy organization, selected a Birmingham-area community pharmacy as the site of one of its local Script Your Future campaign launches in an event last Tuesday.
NCL's Script Your Future is a national multi-year awareness campaign designed to help patients better manage their health by encouraging more open conversations between health care professionals and patients. The Birmingham event, which was hosted at Homewood Pharmacy, focused on the important role that all health care professionals, including pharmacists, have in helping patients better adhere to their medication.
"Instead of wringing our hands about the problem of non-adherence, it's about bringing together stakeholders and looking at solutions," said National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "Solving this nation's adherence issue will require the effort of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, as well as patients, which is why NCPA is a proud partner of the Script Your Future campaign."
Poor medication adherence is a growing public health concern, and addressing the problem is especially critical as the number of Americans affected by at least one chronic condition requiring medication therapy is expected to grow from 133 to 157 million by 2020. Nearly three out of four Americans report that they do not always take their medication as directed, a problem that causes more than one‐third of medicine‐related hospitalizations, nearly 125,000 deaths in the United States each year, and adds $290 billion in avoidable costs to the health care system annually. Because of their accessibility, community pharmacists are well-positioned to improve medication adherence.
"Research by the campaign and others shows that pharmacists are among the most trusted patient resources for information about medication and are in an exceptional front-line position to confront this issue," said NCPA and Alabama Board of Pharmacy member Kenny Sanders. "We can help patients understand and anticipate side effects that might prevent them from taking their medication, can debunk myths or answer questions that patients forgot to ask their doctors, and can work with patients to find tools that help them make taking their medication a priority."
The event brought together area stakeholders in health care, business and government, and consumer advocates, to offer practical tools for patients to help them better adhere to their medication, and to help health care professionals better communicate with patients.
A study released in conjunction with the event shows that nationally and in Birmingham, those patients who do not always take their medication as directed are less likely to have received a full explanation of the consequences of their condition, and are less convinced of the importance of adherence.
Communication between patients and their health care professionals is one key factor. The survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, also found that patients view question lists, automatic refills, reduced co‐pays and pill boxes as useful tools for improving adherence. Many of these tools and services are provided at community pharmacies.
"Script Your Future is working in Birmingham and communities across the country to encourage more conversations about the health consequences of non‐adherence and to provide patients and their health care professionals with a range of online tools and resources to help improve adherence among patients with chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma," said Rebecca Burkholder, Vice President of Health Policy for the Washington, DC-based NCL.
The campaign features tools that include free text message reminders, sample questions for patients to ask healthcare practitioners, medication lists, condition management sheets, and fact sheets on common chronic conditions. All of these materials can be found on the campaign website, www.ScriptYourFuture.org.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who spoke at the event, encouraged patients with chronic conditions to speak with their health care professionals about their medications.
"Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals can help prevent many serious health complications by initiating conversations with their patients about the importance of taking medication as directed," Bentley said. "This is especially important for people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, who may have a number of medicines to take each day."
Birmingham is one of six regional target markets in which the multi-year campaign is piloting interventions, outreach activities, research and advertising.
Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non‐profit
membership organization founded in 1899. For more information about the Script Your Future campaign,
visit www.ScriptYourFuture.org. For more information on NCL, please visit www.nclnet.org.
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. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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