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Adherence and Med-Sync

The patient was, at the time, about 96 years old.  She was extremely healthy, alert, lived alone and capably cared for herself.  She was a delight.  She also had hypertension.  It was her only treated condition.  For her hypertension she took one, small, pink pill every morning.  Or at least she was supposed to take one a day.  She was not very adherent.  Wishing to keep her around another 96 years, we enrolled her in our pharmacy’s adherence program.  We struggled.  She meant to take her medicine, but the days just got by her so quickly.  Enter my adherence technician (also my sister-in-law).  My technician engaged her in conversation (not hard since, according to her father, my technician had been vaccinated with a phonograph needle).  Through a continuing dialogue we learned much about that patient.  As she began to trust us and look forward to our calls, my technician developed a plan.  One day, on a “routine” call my tech said to this marvelous lady, “I know you are an early riser.  Do you get up and fix a big breakfast?” 

“No”, the lady replied, “I just get out of bed and make my coffee.  That’s enough for me.”

“Oh, coffee first thing in the morning?” my tech continued

“Yes, dear”, came the answer, “coffee every morning.”

“I love my morning coffee.” my tech replied, leading the lady into our trap.  “Do you drink yours black?”

“No, sweety,” came the reply as the jaws of the trap sprung, “I use one spoon of sugar in each cup.”

Wham!  We had her!  Clamping the jaws of the trap firmly shut, my tech said, “Put your pills in front of your sugar bowl to remind yourself to take them.”

Not realizing she had been thoroughly bamboozled, our patient put her pills in front of her sugar bowl and was adherent until the day her family came and moved her away.

If your pharmacy has a med-sync program that is focused on having pills filled on a set date each month, are you impacting a patient’s health or are you working on a convenient schedule for yourself and your pharmacy?  The best med-sync programs combine both.  The convenience of knowing when refills are due, if prescribed medications are appropriate, and the ability to have a conversation with patients are the hallmarks of quality patient care.  No matter how much we need to automate what we do for data collection, as a profession our greatest strengths, joys, and effectiveness come from simple conversations with patients.  Everything good starts at the pharmacy counter eye-to-eye.

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COMMENTS
Bob Sutton JANUARY 5 2017
Absolutely EXCELLENT Customer Service! Patient FOCUS and COMMUNICATION separate this Pharmacy from Chain, Big Box and Mail Order operations.
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