Ask About Adherence is a blog series featuring Q&A’s with experts and new medication adherence resources. In this post, we feature a recent study on medication synchronization programs.
February marked National Heart Health Month, reminding us that, globally, cardiovascular disease claims nearly 18 million lives each year—a number that is estimated to rise to upwards of 23 million over the next decade. A critical step to reversing these numbers is ensuring that patients adhere to their treatment plans, taking their medications as prescribed by their health care provider to manage their conditions.
Managing complex chronic conditions such as those associated with heart disease including hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes often requires patients to take many trips to the pharmacy to get the medicines they need. In fact, some patients with cardiovascular disease make upwards of 44 pharmacy visits each year. The burden of these frequent trips to the pharmacy can result in poor medication adherence.
Recently, Health Affairs published a study that examined medication synchronization programs, which allow patients to collect all their medications in a single visit to the pharmacy, and their impact on cardiovascular medication adherence among Medicare beneficiaries. The study found that in patient populations participating in these programs:
- Adherence improved by three percent across all patients in the program and improved threefold for patients with low baseline adherence rates.
- The odds of optimal adherence overtime increased by eight percent compared to those in the control group.
- Hospitalizations decreased by nine percent and emergency room visits decreased by three percent.
The findings underscore a growing body of evidence that suggests programs that promote medication adherence—such as medication synchronization—have the potential to decrease hospitalizations and reduce health spending, generating savings for health systems and taxpayers alike. Learn more about how medication synchronization programs can improve patient adherence here.
Carolyn Ha Carolyn Ha, Pharm.D., is a Director in the Policy and Research Department at PhRMA, where she provides clinical expertise to shape policy development and advocacy related to population health and chronic disease management, improvement of medication use and clinical and quality management strategies. As a clinician, she is passionate about patient care and translating research into actionable policies that will ensure patients get the most out of their medications and creating a sustainable health care delivery system that incentivizes innovation. Carolyn received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Rutgers University and is a registered pharmacist in Virginia. Prior to joining PhRMA, she spent time as a practitioner in a community pharmacy and advocated on behalf of independent pharmacy owners. When she’s not working to improve the lives of patients through better use of medicines, Carolyn can be found spoiling her nephew and niece, exploring new restaurants, traveling and cheering on the New York Giants.