Addressing barriers to improve medication adherence

One of the most important parts of a pharmacist’s job — ensuring their patients properly take the medications they dispense — also is one of the most difficult to accomplish. The first step toward improving adherence is to understand what causes nonadherence, said Cindy Pigg, vice president of Managed Care and Business Development at Cardinal Health.

[caption id="attachment_588276" align="alignright" width="150"] Cynthia Pigg, vice president of Managed Care and Business Development at Cardinal Health[/caption]

“Barriers to medication adherence are behavioral, they’re financial, there are cultural barriers to taking your medication and then there’s healthcare literacy — all of these things flow into medication adherence,” Pigg said. “Pharmacists are well equipped to guide patients in their healthcare journey, and help people maximize the investment they've made in these pharmaceuticals by improving their health.”

The most important tool pharmacists have in their arsenal to address adherence is simply getting to know the patient, Pigg said. For example, medication therapy management appointments can help pharmacists identify barriers patients face when taking medication.

For patients with multiple medications who might have trouble tracking, Pigg said medication synchronization is an option. A medication synchronization program will schedule a day for patients to pick up their medications, eliminating return trips. If patients need a reminder, Pigg said, Cardinal Health Pharmacy Marketing Advantage, in partnership with Digital Pharmacist, offers outreach solutions that include a custom website and a mobile app with refill and marketing capabilities, among other features. Cardinal Health also offers compliance packaging through Dispill, which Pigg said is an ideal solution for patients with complex drug regimens.

“Compliance packaging assists patients in keeping their complex regimens straight,” she said, adding that “it’s also a critical tool in long-term care pharmacy.”

By offering these services, in addition to seeing an impact on their adherence, patients also will begin to see the pharmacy as a healthcare destination, a perception that she said Cardinal Health helps its customers create with marketing assistance.

“We like to help our pharmacists market their services as a healthcare destination — point of care testing and vaccinations,” Pigg said. “Then it's not just a place you go to pick up your medicine, but a destination to access an expert healthcare professional for various services and patient needs.”

The other benefit is that pharmacists are able to streamline their workflow by setting aside monthly appointment times with patients.

“The pharmacist can plan for that in their workflow,” Pigg said, “so everything is ready, and they have time dedicated to the patient.”

On a macro level, improved adherence leads to better outcomes and healthier patients — and by turning pharmacies into healthcare destinations, pharmacists can improve the patient healthcare journey.

“Tailoring solutions to your patients is population health with a personalized approach,” Pigg said. “That's really what our pharmacists are doing — helping patients in their journey to improve their health and live a better life.”

Learn more about solutions and services offered to improve medication adherence at RBC 2018. To register for the tradeshow, please click here.