Nonadherence to prescription medication is, for many, is a roadblock to better health. There are many underlying causes, including social determinants, health literacy, and motivation.
It has been shown that therapeutic complexity (i.e. the process of acquisition, retrieval, and intake as it relates to a medication regimen) determines the likelihood of proper adherence to prescription drug use. Minimizing complicated processes related to medication use consequently improves adherence.
Synchronizing medications is one method for simplifying the processes above. Medications are synchronized when their associated prescriptions fill on the same day. . A study published in Health Affairs found that patients without synchronized medication regimens measured approximately 8 percentage points lower for adherence than patients with refill consolidation. The study targeted eligible patients with cardiovascular conditions.
Additionally, there is the substantial burden of refills. It is interesting to note that in another study, patients with cardiovascular disease alone make an average of twenty pharmacy visits per year; the top ten percent reportedly visit upwards of forty-three times annually. Synchronized regimens reduce the number of pharmacy visits greatly.
Adherence to a medication regimen also varies based on the type of pharmacy patients use. In the study above, the impact of synchronized medication was relatively substantial for those receiving prescriptions either by mail order or via retail pharmacies. Among the patients receiving two cardiovascular drugs, those who utilized a refill consolidation program were nearly 15% more adherent to their medication regimen, as compared to those with no refill consolidation plan.
This is a beneficial outcome for many patients– given that those with “low and intermediate adherence” have hospital readmission rates upwards of 20%, according to one 2017 study.
Lowered readmission rates are only one positive of synchronized medication management programs. Having a single pharmacy visit within the setting of a consolidated medication regimen ideally achieves improved dosing regularity and increased lines of communication between the pharmacist, the patient, and the patient’s providers.