Study Changes Ann Arbor VA Pharmacy Practice
A recent study conducted at four VA hospitals found that direct pharmacist interaction dramatically increased the rate at which patients successfully took multiple medications. The study involved 118 patients who all had a mental health diagnosis and prescriptions. Several also had additional conditions “such as hypertension or diabetes” in addition to the mental health diagnoses. The patients each took an average of 14 medications throughout the day.
The pharmacist first packaged all the medications in blister packs to make it easier for the patients to keep organized. She also conducted medication and packaging education sessions for the patients enrolled in the program. Finally, the patients were all mailed refill reminders prior to their refill dates and physicians were alerted for those who failed to refill the prescriptions 7 to 10 days past their schedule.
The patients who were enrolled in the program showed dramatically higher rates of compliance with their medication schedules. On average, the patients had medications on hand 91% of outpatient days during the first six months of the program. This compares to a rate of 62% of those not in the program. As a result of the program the VA hospital in Ann Arbor and four other VA facilities have made the program a permanent part of patient care.