It is understandable why many people find our healthcare system daunting or confusing. Fortunately, our legislators in Frankfort have an opportunity during the 2015 Legislative Session to take one small step toward making our health care system easier for patients to understand and, at the same time, increase access to their treatment options.
Proposed legislation in Frankfort could revolutionize the way Kentuckians get their medications and interact with their pharmacists by allowing patients to “sync” their monthly prescription pick-ups to just once a month.
Wait, I can’t do that already? Great question! You can, and many pharmacies offer this service, but only if your health plan agrees to work with them.
That’s where Senate Bill 44 comes in.
Senate Bill 44, called the “medication synchronization” bill, would establish a more streamlined system for Kentuckians to work with their pharmacists when it comes to their prescription schedule.
This legislation makes possible an appointment-based model which encourages pharmacists and patients to sit down together and discuss their medication schedule.
As a community pharmacist, I see the need for this legislation every day. If my patients are required to visit multiple pharmacies several times a month, they are far less likely to follow their treatment plan. In addition, by filling their medications at once we can better utilize our 8+ years of training and education to serve as a partner, rather than just a facilitator, in their care.
Non-adherence to provider prescribed medications has become a major issue across the Commonwealth particularly for those with chronic diseases who have various medications and the elderly who may struggle to remember refill dates or rely on caregivers for rides.
Many pharmacies have already implemented programs to allow for one monthly pick up, such as the “Simplify My Meds” program we have here at St. Matthews Community Pharmacy. However, we run into road blocks in when health plans refuse to work with us and our patients.
This legislation creates the right environment for patients and pharmacists to engage in an on-going and thorough dialogue about critical elements of medications and treatments – including how different medications interact with each other, how to handle adverse side-effects and general ways to get the most benefit out of your prescriptions.
The legislation also promotes the improvement of health outcomes by increasing convenience and reducing barriers for patients by allowing them to make one monthly trip to the pharmacy.
There is no blanket way in which patients use or react to medications, so there shouldn’t be a blanket way for administering them. And the best part is, it’s completely optional. Kentuckians can choose to take advantage of this program or not.
I support medication synchronization legislation because it is a common sense solution to the medication adherence issues in Kentucky. Currently, only about half of folks stick to their prescription schedules after 90 days.
It’s time to improve our health care system and promote the utilization of pharmacists as the qualified and knowledgeable health care professionals they are. Medication synchronization is just another tool pharmacists can offer Kentuckians to help with their total health picture.
Let’s do the right thing and pass Senate Bill 44.
Chris Harlow is a Pharmacists with St. Matthews Community Pharmacy