by Pat Snyder
Do you have multiple prescription medicines that need to be filled each month? Do you call the pharmacy at the last minute several times a month to get your refills? Are you a caregiver who is trying to manage prescriptions for your loved one?
If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, there is a free program available at participating pharmacies that will lower your stress and provide better medical outcomes for you or for your loved one. It may also lower your overall medical costs.
Simplify My Meds is a program designed to help coordinate and organize all of a person’s or family’s prescription medicines to be filled at the same time each month. It was created by the National Community Pharmacists Association. There are similar prescription adherence programs(such as Sync My Meds) available at many pharmacies.
Diabetes Out of Control
Charlotte is a pharmacy technician at our local pharmacy. She was hired two years ago to run their Simplify My Meds program. Her 84-year-old mother was her first patient to use Simplify My Meds. She had 14 different prescriptions that needed to be filled on different days of the month. Her mother’s diabetes was out of control, and she had frequent hospitalizations. She also had heart disease, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems. So Charlotte placed her on the program.
“I had been working in pharmacies for 13 years. I was still struggling to coordinate my mother’s medicines and to make her compliant with her doctor’s directions. It has worked out so well for her. Now her medicines are organized, and she has had no hospital visits since starting the program. Her recent blood work showed that her diabetes, blood pressure, and thyroid are all under control. Before the program, her blood sugar would spike, and she had lots of fatigue.”
How It Works
Here is how Simplify My Meds works:
- Ask if your pharmacy participates in a prescription management program such as Simplify My Meds and ask to join.
- You will discuss your complete drug therapy program with the pharmacist, including over-the-counter medications.
- A list of your medicines will be generated and verified with you and your doctor.
- You can select the most cost-effective drug therapies.
- A day will be selected to fill all your monthly prescriptions based on your most costly medication as an anchor.
- Over a couple of months, all your maintenance medicines will be synchronized to be refilled on the same day of the month with new prescriptions added to the program as your needs change.
- Short-term medicines for acute issues, such as antibiotics for an infection, will be filled as needed.
- Refills are managed by the pharmacy staff with ongoing communication with doctors to keep prescriptions up-to-date. If your doctor requires an appointment to refill a medicine, the pharmacy alerts the patient in time to see the doctor.
- Program can be coordinated with Medicare Part D to reveal your co-pays for the year, when you go into the “donut hole,” and to enable you to budget.
- If you are an out of-town caregiver for a parent, the pharmacy will work with you and your parent to provide what is needed.
- Multiple family members who join the program can have all their medicines ready on the same day to minimize trips to the pharmacy.
There are multiple benefits that come with a prescription maintenance program.
- Stress is reduced and time is saved when all medicines are available on the same day of the month.
- Prescription duplications are eliminated.
- Prescription conflicts are identified and resolved.
- Costs for the occasional dosage increase are reduced through pharmacist/physician communication. (e.g. You might use an inhaler more frequently than prescribed during allergy season.)
- Communication among physicians, patients, and pharmacists is improved.
- Compliance and consistency result in improved quality of care.
- Overall health costs go down.
Charlotte shared, “We have 103 customers on the Simplify My Meds program with 1,114 prescriptions filled each month. I have seen a big increase in adherence with our customers since this program has been in place. Folks are much better about picking up all their medicines.”
And on a more personal note, Charlotte added, “This has changed my stress level in caregiving with Mama. She used to tell me that her medicine ran out and she did not want to bother me.“
Charlotte does not hear her mom say those words anymore.
Pat Snyder is the author of Treasures in the Darkness: Extending the Early Stage of LBD, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s Disease. You can find her book on Amazon.com.