NCL names winners of the third annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge
WASHINGTON — The National Consumers League on Monday announced the winners of the third annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge for health profession students. This month-long competition engaged students and faculty across healthcare disciplines in developing creative ideas for raising awareness about a critical public health issue: medication adherence. This year’s awardees are Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Touro University California College of Pharmacy, Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy and University of Wisconsin — Madison School of Pharmacy.
“This was the second year we challenged students to work in collaborative teams of future health professionals who interact with patients — the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and others,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “This more comprehensive approach will ultimately result in patients hearing from multiple voices encouraging them to take their medication as directed.”
The 2014 Medication Adherence Team Challenge is part of the national Script Your Future public awareness campaign coordinated by NCL. The campaign includes more than 135 public and private stakeholder organizations, including Challenge sponsors — the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation, the American Medical Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Student teams from pharmacy, medicine, nursing and many other health professions worked side by side on campuses and in local communities using innovative solutions to reach thousands of consumers to raise awareness using Script Your Future materials. This year, students also submitted entries in the categories of “Health Disparities Outreach” and “Creative Inter-Professional Team Event.” Coordinators also established, new this year, the award for “Effective Communication and Media Outreach.”
“The Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has been an innovative method for our future healthcare professionals to engage with their local communities,” said Lucinda Maine, EVP and CEO at AACP. “The levels of communication and types of events held in these communities provide essential information and strategies for patients to improve their medication adherence and ultimately their health outcomes.”
More than 2,200 future healthcare professionals held 300 events in 26 states and the District of Columbia, counseling more than 9,300 patients and reaching more than 6 million consumers nationwide.
“It is vital for patients to take their medication as directed in order to achieve optimal health outcomes,” said AMA president Ardis Hoven. “Educating patients through community outreach helps improve the conversations happening in doctors’ offices across the country and helps patients avoid adverse drug reactions and unnecessary hospitalizations. The Script Your Future challenge presents an excellent opportunity for healthcare professionals-in-training to improve public health.”
“The involvement of students and faculty in the effort to boost medication adherence is incredibly important,” said NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger. “The Medication Adherence Team Challenge establishes this issue as a top priority for the next generation of health professionals and inspires them to advance this goal within their own communities. The winners are showing the tremendous power that healthcare professionals can have on advancing patient care through medication adherence. We hope that is a lesson they will carry with them throughout their careers and that will inspire others to do the same.”
Q&A: Turning to technology with Kristi Rudkin of Walgreens
Following her appearance at the 2nd Annual World Congress Summit to Improve Adherence & Enhance Patient Engagement in Philadelphia, Kristi Rudkin, senior director of product development for Walgreens, spoke with DSN about the company’s efforts to boost patients’ adherence rates. Here are excerpts from that interview:
DSN: What’s your overall impression of the conference? How committed are the participants to improving adherence and patient engagement?
Kristi Rudkin: It was about collaboration, and you could tell there was a path forward from last year’s conference. The detail and depth of the conversation — and what has been learned and tried over the last year — is impressive. I think as an industry we are moving toward being able to solve a good percentage of the adherence problem.
DSN: Adherence dovetails with so many things going on now in pharmacy. Are the health system and community pharmacy on the same page regarding goals like engaging patients and improving adherence?
Rudkin: Yes, I do think many of the stakeholders were on the same page, and much of the discussion was on how we do that collaboratively.
For me, one takeaway from the conference was that … it really will take a village of providers to help solve this adherence problem, with participation from pharmacy providers, health plans and prescribers working together to help solve this problem.
DSN: Are health information technology, electronic health records, e-prescribing, data mining, mobile-app refill reminders and other technologies providing new windows into patient behavior and aiding Walgreens in its effort to improve patient adherence rates?
Rudkin: I definitely believe that. Data mining is critical to understanding patient behavior, and the many ways we can reach people these days through technology — whether a mobile app reminder or by using our systems to inform the pharmacist about which patients are at risk — gives them more information about the patient at the pharmacy.
Part of what the data helps us understand … is how patients perform on adherence over time.
Also, e-prescribing has given us more insight into the problem of primary nonadherence, where the patient doesn’t pick up that prescription. If the prescription is coming right from the prescriber to the pharmacy, the pharmacy is at least aware that the patient should be getting this medicine, and can intervene.
DSN: In a case like that, what happens? Does the Walgreens central call center or a local pharmacist follow up?
Rudkin: It’s kind of a triage. The technicians make the initial call when a prescription has been in the pharmacy for about a week. The technicians can handle a lot of things, and sometimes it could just be that the patient says they’ve gotten samples from the doctor. But if the tech gets the impression that there’s something more going on, they will transfer the call to the pharmacist to intervene.
DSN: Has Walgreens considered adding dashboard technology or some other form of data access that pharmacists can pull up to give them a real-time read on individual patients’ adherence record? Or is that too much additional responsibility to put on the pharmacist?
Rudkin: That’s a good question, and I don’t think the industry has the answer to that yet. If we can use the systems corporately to tell the pharmacist that Patient A is nonadherent, is that useful information, and can it give the pharmacist a better look into where the patient is in their therapy journey? At this point, that’s been our primary focus. So we’re considering [dashboard technology], but we’re trying to leverage our technology to pinpoint those patients for our pharmacists, so they know who they have to intervene with. It’s not a decision they need to make or spend a lot of time thinking about. We try to do that for them.
DSN: Where is Walgreens in terms of moving ahead with a medication synchronization program?
Rudkin: We did a proof of concept in 2013, where we tested it on a very small scale. Now we’re looking to expand that to the pilot stage so we can understand where we can create efficiencies in the process, and make sure we can refine it so we can consider it on a larger scale.
Q&A: Engaging with patients at pharmacy
With half of all patients not taking their medications as prescribed, efforts to engage patients more effectively and boost adherence rates have become critical for pharmacy leaders. Here, we discuss how CVS Caremark is addressing the challenge with William Shrank, M.D. the company’s chief medical officer for provider innovation and analytics. Shrank recently spoke at the 2nd Annual World Congress Summit to Improve Adherence & Enhance Patient Engagement, sponsored by MWV Healthcare.
DSN: What do you see as the chief barriers to adherence?
William Shrank, M.D.: Nonadherence to medications is a multi-faceted issue. Barriers may vary from patient to patient. We also believe the patient’s family and friends can play an essential role in promoting adherence. We want to be sure adherence is a team sport, and not an individual one.
In our research we have seen that some of the key barriers to adherence include cost, convenience, forgetfulness, complexity of the patient’s treatment regimen and sometimes even the patient’s access to a social support system, either through family caregivers or more formal patient support.
Overall, the decision to take or fail to take a medication is very personal. We need to leverage our extensive data assets, as well as our personal relationships with patients, to carefully target the right intervention to the right patient.
DSN: What interventions with patients are proving most effective at improving adherence rates at CVS?
Shrank: We conduct peer-reviewed research and have been leveraging those learnings to identify, develop and pilot breakthrough innovations. They range from developing models to predict a patient’s adherence behaviors in order to better target interventions, to using medication reminder devices to help combat forgetfulness and to digital interventions that engage patients to encourage adherence. This research will help develop best practices for the entire field, and help us engage in new and more productive ways to encourage better adherence.
Our research has shown that pharmacists are among the most effective health providers in encouraging medication adherence among patients. Our Pharmacy Advisor Counseling program engages patients with chronic conditions face-to-face or on the phone with our pharmacists to improve adherence and identify gaps in care.
DSN: You have said that pharmacists can be more effective than physicians at improving adherence. How are health information technology, electronic health records, e-prescribing, data mining, mobile app refill reminders and other technologies providing new windows into patient behavior and aiding CVS in that effort?
Shrank: Many patients see their pharmacist more often than their doctor, and that face-to-face interaction and counseling can provide important insights as to why a patient isn’t adherent and how to address their issues. We’re engaged in a number of pilots to determine how best to leverage technology and digital tools to improve adherence. These include engaging patients through apps and devices to encourage adherence through reminders and incentives; as well as evaluating patient data to develop predictive models to help determine who is more likely to become non-adherent and what interventions may work best for these individuals.
DSN: How far along is CVS in incorporating medication synchronization at its pharmacies as a tool for improving adherence and building an appointment-based patient-intervention model?
Shrank: We are engaged in a medication synchronization pilot to help those patients with chronic conditions dealing with multiple medications. We look forward to sharing concrete results on the impact of this pilot.