By Katherine H. Capps
While the health care industry reevaluates processes and care from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, patient experience optimization has arguably never been more of a priority for the health community at-large. A big part of optimizing the experience includes paying attention to and changing how medications are selected, managed and monitored to avoid misuse, overuse or underuse. A recent study of more than 200 health care leaders—including health care providers, hospital/health system executives, payors, advocacy groups and academics shows nearly 80% strongly believe that access to team-based, person-centered comprehensive medication management (CMM) services will ensure a safer, more effective and appropriate way to manage medications and avoid medication misadventures.
Meanwhile, nearly half of health care leaders surveyed believe a lack of communication between prescribers (i.e. physicians, specialists, other prescribers) and pharmacists will continue to be the biggest issue in managing medications in the year ahead.
In an effort to help the industry improve patience experience, each constituent touching health care can play its part to address medication disasters and thus, improve the overall patient experience:
- For physicians – medications are involved in 80% of the way we treat and prevent illness; however, physicians have little time to speak with patients about new medications during a typical office visit. A team-based approach, where a medication specialist works in collaborative practice with the physician, can significantly impact total cost of care, quality and physician satisfaction while helping patients achieve clinical goals of therapy. In fact, four in 10 health care leaders say the physicians and pharmacists at the care team level have the most impact on making a lasting change for removing professional silos that prevent person-centered integrated care.
- For payors – prescription drug spending exceeds $300 billion a year, but while price and access have been at the forefront of discussions, GTMRx finds that when the medication being prescribed is safe, appropriate and used correctly, it can help repair this broken system and mitigate the misuse and mismanagement of medications in the future impacting total cost of care.
- For employers – employers must move beyond managing just “the pill” through formulary design and prior-authorizations to focus on “the process” considering how medications are being selected, managed and monitored for the individual patient. A recent GTMRx survey of HR business decision makers shows nine out of 10 employers feel they would benefit from a more innovative way to manage medication therapy problems.
- For providers – at the practice level we must surround patients with a coordinated, interprofessional team with access to clinical information at the point-of-care, recognizing appropriately skilled clinical pharmacists as a member of that team working in collaborative practice with physicians and other providers. High quality primary care is the foundation of the health system and advanced primary care models must be equipped with enabling technology, advanced diagnostics and a process of care (CMM) to allow providers to target correct therapies and prevent medication misadventures.
- For lawmakers – it is vital for policymakers to move beyond fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based payment models that will reward the interprofessional team. Expanding investments in primary care is essential to reduce total cost of care allowing for management of patients with chronic conditions (taking multiple medications), coordinating care among multiple providers and getting the medications right.
The optimization of a patient’s overall experience includes how well we optimize medications medications and it’s up to everyone in health care to play a role in addressing it.
Katherine H. Capps is co-founder and executive director of The Get the Medications Right™ (GTMRx) Institute, the catalyst for change to medication management that brings together critical stakeholders across health care.