3 Ways to Improve Medication Management for Chronic Illness

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Move over, medical home: a centralized pharmacy home may also help individuals with chronic illness better manage their medication, according to research from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Caremark.

In a centralized pharmacy home, a patient’s pharmacy care is evaluated and renewals and refills are better synchronized and managed. The centralized pharmacy home could also provide financial incentives for patients to fill prescriptions at a single pharmacy, so that a single healthcare professional has a full view of the patient’s needs and care, researchers suggest.

In a 2010 survey on medication management, the Healthcare Intelligence Network found that for 35 percent of the survey’s 107 respondents, a pharmacist is the central point of contact for medication management efforts. Additionally, almost 70 percent of respondents include a pharmacist on their organization’s medication adherence team. Download a summary of the survey results.

Two other approaches to improve medication management proposed by the researchers include:

  • Encouraging 90-day prescriptions versus 30-day prescriptions and coordination through mail order pharmacies to reduce complexity of both filling and taking medications and streamlining the number of trips it takes to fill prescriptions.
  • Experimenting with programs and technologies that may make it easier for patients to better organize their medications.

Likely to benefit from these proposals are patients with chronic heart disease, who usually have multiple doctors and take nearly a dozen medications that are filled in at least two different pharmacies. This results in many patients struggling to keep their medications straight, according to the new study published in January’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

The recommendations are based on a review of pharmacy claims from the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management (PBM) book of business for 1.83 million patients taking statins, and 1.48 million patients taking ACE inhibitors or ARBs between June 1, 2006 and May 30, 2007. The researchers selected these medicines for review because they are the most widely sold medications for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, which is the condition that imposes the greatest clinical and economic burden in the U.S. and abroad.

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