Participant satisfaction with a community-based medication synchronization program

In a metropolitan area in Kansas City, a grocery store chain pharmacy decided to assess patient satisfaction with a new program they were offering. They called this program Time My Meds. Time My Meds was designed for patients taking 3 or more chronic medications to sync them to all fill on one day each month. The patients that were enrolled were asked to take a survey 3 months later to assess their satisfaction with the program. The survey collected demographic information and satisfaction based on the 5-point Likert scale. A total of 48 surveys were considered with no differences in trends based on age, education, income, or number of medications. Overall satisfaction was ranked very high with each question receiving a median score of 5 out of 5 on the scale.

This program was designed to benefit the patient. First, it helps reduce noncompliance. Three out of four Americans report not taking their medications as prescribed with long-term adherence rate at 50%. This can severely reduce the quality of life for an individual with an uncontrolled chronic disease. The results of the Time My Meds program showed patients had 3.4 to 6.1 times greater odds of adherence than unenrolled patients. This helps adherence because a patient is more like to come to the pharmacy if they only have to come once a month rather than once a week. Second, the study showed that pharmacy workflow would be improved because they could fill everything at once for a single pick-up date and reduce the unplanned and sporadic fills. By reducing these unnecessary fills, there will be more time for pharmacy staff to assist the patient.

From a patient’s perspective, this plan may be a great idea. It is extremely convenient to only make one trip to the pharmacy, easier to remember what medications are needed, and reduces the likelihood of noncompliance/nonadherence which improves the patient’s health. From a pharmacy technician/interns perspective, the program has many flaws. For example, some patients cannot afford to pick up all of their medications at once. Others like to manage their own medications and call them in when they are needed. The program may also take a few weeks to fully synchronize the “acceptable” medications, which can confuse an older adult that does not fully understand the program. Also, the only medications that can be enrolled in the program are those that are deemed “acceptable.” Patients may be on medications that are not deemed “acceptable” and would therefore, still need to manage some medications by themselves. Again, for an older adult, this may cause confusion as they would be expecting to pick up certain medications that may not actually be included in the synchronization. Overall, the idea of the program is great. I still believe there are kinks that need to be worked out to make the program the best it can be. Do you feel like a program like this would be easy to implement in a community pharmacy?

Butler K, Ruisinger J, Bates J, et al. Participant satisfaction with a community-based medication synchronization program. J Am Pharm Assoc(2003). 2015; 55(5):534-539.