February 2014, Vol 2, No 1 - Inside Pharmacy Management
Debbie Sheppard

Implementing a medication synchronization program is the most effective method for pharmacies to improve medication adherence, take control of their businesses, and improve patient health. The program enables pharmacies to time patients’ use of medications for chronic conditions and ensure prescription filling at the same time each month.

Medication synchronization not only improves patient care, but also increases prescription sales, improves patient loyalty, enhances patient satisfaction, and transitions pharmacy to a patient-centered, appointment-based model of care. This enables pharmacies to provide patients with personalized interventions that meet the complex needs associated with chronic conditions. Medication synchronization represents true pharmacy practice innovation and demonstrates that proactive patient intervention increases medication adherence and reduces overall healthcare costs.

Patient-Centered Care Model
Medication synchronization moves pharmacy beyond the current just-in-time reactive dispensing workflow to a patient-centric process that proactively times the filling of prescriptions for chronic disease medication and facilitates an improved, appointment-based model of care. Pharmacies that have implemented medication synchronization programs capitalize on monthly patient visits to identify and resolve any medication-related barriers to adherence that patients may have.

Medication synchronization programs create active patient engagement between the pharmacy and the patient. The pharmacy can identify a patient’s needs, and allow pharmacists to guide patients through their medication therapy. In addition to promoting active pharmacist–patient engagement, medication synchronization programs engender stronger patient–pharmacy relationships. Many pharmacies are leveraging this as an opportunity to incorporate additional pharmacy services and spend additional time with patients.

The medication synchronization process provides the foundation on which the pharmacy can build additional services, such as immunizations, comprehensive medication reviews, and disease state–specific programs. By having more control over time and workflow, pharmacies can maximize their time spent with patients for the benefit of patients and the pharmacy.

Benefits for Pharmacies
Implementing a medication synchronization program:

  • Improves medication adherence and patient health outcomes
  • Provides prescription volume growth for the pharmacy
  • Encourages pharmacy inclusion in restricted payer networks. With restricted networks on the rise, the ability of pharmacy to positively impact proportion of days covered (PDC) scores and drive payers’ quality bonus payments is critical to preventing exclusion
  • Promotes an organized, more evenly distributed pharmacy workload and increases Central Fill capacity
  • Improves inventory control. As the number of patients enrolled in medication synchronization increases, the pharmacy can anticipate required inventory, eliminating excess on-hand quantities and improving inventory turns
  • Creates “found time” for other patient care activities. Pharmacies with 70 or more patients enrolled in medication synchronization experience a significant change in their workflow. Instead of patients with multiple medications for chronic conditions visiting the pharmacy several times a month, they make a single trip. This affords the pharmacist more time for patient interaction and promotes a more holistic medication therapy management process, thereby improving adherence and overall patient care
  • Allows pharmacies to prepare for and participate in pay-for-performance remuneration models while still driving additional revenue in the more traditional fee-for-service model.

Benefits for Patients
Medication synchronization program implementation yields improved patient satisfaction and healthcare outcomes. Although consolidating the number of pharmacy visits is a significant patient benefit, the primary benefit is the complete and continuous review of all of the enrolled patients’ medications by the pharmacy. This is accompanied by the appropriate pharmacist interventions to improve care and achieve better health outcomes.

The pharmacy drives the process by reaching out to patients well in advance of the refill due date to determine if they adhered to the regimen, had any recent primary care visits, and is on schedule to have their chronic medications refilled. The pharmacy also uses this time to determine if there have been any care transitions that would require medication reconciliation. If the patient is on schedule and has experienced no care transitions, the pharmacy will refill the prescription and confirm an appointment date, time for pickup, and pharmacist consultation.

At the scheduled appointment, the patient and pharmacist meet face-to-face for a medication review. This gives the pharmacist dedicated time to reinforce the importance of adherence, answer any questions the patient may have, and provide the necessary patient education. This interaction fosters improved patient understanding, adherence, satisfaction, and overall health.

Measurements and Analytics Measurements and analytics are key to quantifying the impact of medication synchronization programs on medication adherence. Adherence scores, as measured by the PDC are consistently higher for patients enrolled in medication synchronization programs than for those not enrolled (Figure 1, Figure 2).


Figure 1


Figure 2

A significant benefit to medication synchronization is the reduction of first-fill abandonment. The industry is trying to determine ways to reduce first-fill abandonment, and pharmacy is the answer.

Pharmacies using a tool to standardize a medication synchronization program experience a 20% increase in the number of enrolled patients. There are several reasons for this, including the tool’s ability to predict and identify patients for enrollment who would benefit from enrolling into the program (Figure 3).


Figure 3

Enhanced Patient Care
Healthcare is changing and pharmacy is uniquely positioned to dynamically change the way patient care is delivered. As part of the patient-centered model, medication synchronization offers continuity of care and provides the foundation for regular interventions with patients. In medication synchronization programs using measurements and analytics, pharmacists become empowered with valuable data and information that recognize individual patients and identify the appropriate patient-specific interventions. Moreover, pharmacists can encourage patients to overcome medication therapy barriers during monthly patient interventions, offering a high-touch approach to caring for patients, increasing medication adherence, and reducing overall healthcare costs. n

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Last modified: February 28, 2014
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