Pharmacists can improve health outcomes

Retail pharmacies well-suited to help address medication adherence problem

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and nearby healthcare institutions shows that patients with diabetes experience better outcomes when they undergo face-to-face medication therapy management sessions with pharmacists.

Drug Store News has reported enough about the benefits of MTM to fill a book, but a scientific study showing a demonstrable benefit of it only makes the case stronger. It speaks to the growing role of the pharmacist as a key member of the patient's healthcare team, every bit as important as nurses and doctors, and also points to a role of growing importance to pharmacy retailers themselves as they seek to distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

MTM services have a pretty strong track record of helping to improve medication adherence, and with medication nonadherence costing the healthcare system an estimated $290 billion per year, according to the New England Healthcare Institute, it could go a long way toward reducing healthcare costs. A study released in November 2012 found that drug makers lose $188 billion per year from non-adherence, while a Congressional Budget Office study, also from November, found that a 1% increase in the prescriptions filled by Medicare beneficiaries would reduce the program's spending on medical services by 0.2% by reducing costs in areas such as hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and released Wednesday, found that patients at Thrifty White Pharmacy who participated in the 90-store chain's medication synchronization program and took their medications correctly were more likely to stay well, make fewer clinic visits and require fewer hospitalizations.

Through MTM and other, similar services, pharmacists can do a lot to make sure patients take their medications, take them properly and get the most out of the therapies prescribed to them. And as a growing body of research shows, their efforts are paying off.


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