One of the greatest problems in healthcare is the difficulty in communicating information. It is not uncommon for a patient to leave the physician’s office not understanding information the caregiver thought was conveyed. Bob Lomenick, pharmacist and owner of Tyson’s Drugs in Holly Springs, Mississippi, 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 doctors] 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.”
When Lomenick began looking around for ideas, he 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 being implemented with success by some other other pharmacists across the country.
This innovative program synchronizes and schedules prescription refills, monitors patients monthly for adherence to physicians’ instructions, and provides pharmacists with opportunities for patient consultation and recommendations to physicians.
Synchronization and Scheduling
Use of the RxSync Service enables pharmacists to monitor patients to be certain they are taking their medications as prescribed. Pharmacists using this service report fewer missed medications and greater adherence to physician instructions about those medications.
The pharmacist synchronizes by filling all chronic medications of each “work group” on the same day each month. Thus prescriptions are filled every 28 days, except for Medicaid patients whose prescription limits demand they be filled every 30 days. The Medicaid patients form their own 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 2-3 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 knows ahead of time just what is needed. The procedure also cuts down on employee stress.
To facilitate patient/physician/pharmacist communication, Lomenick utilizes a Parata Pass machine to dispense each medication dose in small bags of 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. No guesswork is involved.
How it works
The medications to be taken at one time are dispensed in small packets in a long strip from a box. All medications to be taken at each time are in one packet; those at other times of the day are dispensed in their packets. Because doses for each time of day appear individually, patients and caregivers can tell at a glance when the last dosage was taken and when the next one is due.
Communication is one often overlooked key to better healthcare. This program is beneficial to all concerned because it provides communication among all parties involved. Pharmacies benefit because they are more efficient and more profitable while managing and improving patient compliance. Patients benefit because they are healthier as a result of compliance with the physicians’ instructions in taking their meds. Physicians benefit because they are more in control of their patients’ adherence to instructions. As a result of clearer communication, patients are healthier.