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Medication Management Improvements Key for Medication Adherence

Nearly all CMIOs say medication management is improving, but more fixes are needed to boost medication adherence and patient safety.

medication management adherence

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Although the healthcare industry is on the right track, more must be done to improve medication management to drive higher patient medication adherence and patient safety, according to a survey from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS).

Responses from chief medical officers (CMIOs) across the country showed that medication management protocols are better now than they were five years ago.

Medication management – which refers to the systems and policies surrounding medication prescribing, administering, and monitoring – is essential to high medication adherence and patient safety.

Nearly 100 percent of the CMIO respondents said medication management has improved, but that does not mean there is not room to grow, the respondents largely agreed.

For example, the healthcare industry must work to overcome financial hurdles that bar many patients from achieving high medication adherence. When a patient cannot afford to fill her prescription, or rations her medications to make them last longer, it hinders her ability to achieve wellness, experts say.

Seventy-one percent of CMIO respondents said lack of price transparency specifically has been a detriment to effective medication management and medication adherence.

Ninety-one percent of CMIOs said medication management would be easier if providers had access to their patients’ medication adherence data. Currently, pharmacists are the primary gatekeepers of medication adherence data, but care coordination and communication between providers and pharmacists is often left wanting.

Eighty-five percent of the respondents said that more patient engagement in the medication reconciliation process could alleviate this problem. If a patient is more involved in medication management, providers could be made privy to more medication adherence data.

Even though 82 percent of CMIOs say medication management protocol improves patient safety, only half say they are currently satisfied with medication management protocol. Twelve percent said they are dissatisfied.

For example, better patient engagement skills, such as improving patient-provider communication, will also help providers drive better patient safety, especially as it relates to opioids.

Specifically, CMIOs said providers need better communication with patients to determine whether a patient is hopping from one provider to the next in search of an opioid prescription, a practice commonly called “drug shopping.”

Other medication management tools can improve patient safety amidst the opioid crisis, respondents reported. Sixty-five percent of CMIOs said providers need integrated workflows that make it easier for them to coordinate prescribing among multiple providers. Use of electronic prescribing for opioids and use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) could also boost patient safety, the survey revealed.

Thinking of patient safety broadly, respondents also said providers need access to more patient data to ensure accurate drug prescribing. Eighty percent of respondents said providers need access to accurate patient medical histories.

Additionally, 75 percent of CMIOs said providers need better care transitions and care team communication to ensure providers make informed treatment decisions.

Driving patient safety is essential to the overall patient experience. Walking away from a care experience unharmed should be a given in the medical industry, and is the essential duty of all providers, according to Gary Yates, MD, a strategic consulting partner at Press Ganey and a patient safety expert.

“When patients come for care, they expect that harm won't come to themselves or their loved one,” Yates told PatientEngagementHIT.com in a previous interview. “They expect us to deliver the highest technical quality care, and they also expect us to treat them with dignity and respect, and that care givers will approach them with empathy and understanding. Safety is a fundamental component of the overall patient experience.”

Organization leaders must ensure they have the proper tools, protocols, and overall organizational culture in place to deliver on the promise of patient safety. In doing so, hospital and clinic leaders can ensure patients walk away from their care experiences healthier and more satisfied.

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