‘Meds Made Easy’ Innovative Approach To Rx Refills
By Joe Bratsch // July 28, 2013
MED SAFETY THROUGH PATIENT-CENTERED COLLABORATION
ABOVE VIDEO: Pharmacist, Jessica Beal talks about “Meds Made Easy,” a prescription compliance program offered by Hobbs Pharmacy in Merritt Island, Florida. It syncronizes a patient’s medication refills to allow once a month filling, thereby increasing compliance and convenience for patients and caregivers.
BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA — With the unrelenting demands of our lives, remembering to get our prescriptions filled on time can often fall to the bottom of our to-do-lists. Besides, who really wants to make multiple trips to the pharmacy because your medications all ran out at different times?
This is especially true if we happen to belong to the growing two-thirds of adults in America taking at least one medication for a chronic condition on a routine basis. Not to mention, one-quarter of seniors take five or more medications every day. Not taking medications properly, or non-adherence, is a real issue in the United States, resulting in decreased quality of life, as well as leading to $290 billion annually in avoidable healthcare costs!
INNOVATIVE Rx REFILL PROGRAM
In 2011, Mark Hobbs, pharmacist and owner of Hobbs Pharmacy located in Merritt Island, developed a service called Meds Made Easy (MME) to address the issues surrounding the pitfalls of timely prescription refills. MME is based on an automated platform that synchronizes patients’ refills in order for them to be refilled on the same date every 30 days, and for some patients every 90 days. The service started as a pilot program with five of Hobbs’ high prescription volume patients and has now expanded as a free service to all of Hobbs’ patients no matter their number of prescriptions.
“Meds Made Easy is designed to help improve medication compliance through increased communication between patient (or caregiver), pharmacists and physicians,” said Hobbs, whose father founded the pharmacy that has served the Space Coast community for over 40 years.
Pharmacist Jessica Beal, manager of MME, works closely with her lead pharmacy technician, contacts the interested patient and has them do a manual count of each of their medications that they have on hand. This can take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes and serves as a starting point to decide the new date for refills. Once there is an accurate pill count, Beal and her technician contact the prescribing doctors, explain the MME program, and ask the physician for prescriptions in order to fill the gaps.
“Our ultimate goal with Meds Made Easy is to ensure that people take their medications on time and safely,” said Beal. “It’s a proactive system rather than a reactive one, and a win-win for everyone involved.”
Providers have been very collaborative and overwhelmingly consider the MME program to be an effective way for patients to stay on course with their meds. After partial prescriptions are received from the physicians for the medications that patients are low on, a date is set for all the prescriptions to be renewed on the same day.
The patients’ medication lists are managed in an automated program and reminders are set five days before the next refill date to contact the patient. The Hobbs Pharmacy team then contacts the patient to make sure they are up-to-date on new prescriptions as well as changes in current prescriptions. This five-day window also provides a buffer for the pharmacy to work out any delays for prior authorizations or insurance issues, which can be extremely frustrating to patients that are in the store waiting on their medications.
Rx RELIABILITY AND SAFETY HALLMARKS OF MME
MME serves multiple purposes beyond simplifying and creating more reliability for the refill process. When medications are refilled too early, there is risk that patients may take the medication more frequently than the prescribed amount, or even double up on the dose. The contrary is also true. When medications are not being refilled on time, patients may not take the medication as routinely as they are prescribed and end up skipping doses.
MME FOSTERS COLLABORATION AND COMMUNICATION
The MME program offers an opportunity to foster the important relationship between patient, physician, and pharmacist by creating a collaborative process that engages all three in sharing important information, provides a reliable communication vehicle, and helps to ensure optimal and safe medication management.
“Our focus when talking to the doctors and staff is to let them know this program exists, said Beal. “We ask them to identify one or two patients who they think could benefit and let us show them how Meds Made Easy can help, and we also emphasize that, in contrast to mail order, we call every month, check with the patient, and go over everything.”
MME BOON TO CAREGIVERS
Perhaps the population that has benefited most from this effort has been the 40-50+ year old caregivers. It is hard enough to manage and remember one’s own medications, much less the parents they are taking care of and the children they may also have at home. By simplifying all of these refills, these caregivers need only make one trip to the pharmacy per month. If that is not an option, Hobbs Pharmacy also has a delivery service to ease that burden as well.
MME is an extremely simple concept at its core, yet it has been, and continues to be, exceedingly successful in improving adherence for the patients served by Hobbs Pharmacy. When life becomes more about living happy and healthy, and less about medications and refill reminders, everyone benefits.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joe Bratsch is a lifelong Brevard County resident and currently a pharmacy student PharmD candidate studying at the University of Florida. He is student chapter President of the National Community Pharmacists Association, has strong interests in direct patient care, and believes in educating and empowering patients to achieve active roles in managing their own health outcomes. His future plans include owning and operating his own pharmacy in the Space Coast area.