Keeping patients engaged with their healthcare team and their medication is a major hurdle to achieving disease control and preventing adverse events. Continuous engagement is crucial for patients with all conditions, especially among patients taking costly and complex specialty drugs. Missing treatment doses could mean a patient with multiple sclerosis experiences a relapse or triggers disease progression for a patient with cancer. If patients are not being motivated to engage with their care team and their health, patients may not know the importance of their treatment and why they should stick to it.
Although emerging digital health technologies are available to help track patients’ medication habits, pharmacists and nurse teams still play an integral role in this narrative. Digital health technologies should be used as the healthcare team’s tool to improve patient engagement.
Here are 5 recommended topics in which pharmacists and nurses can discuss with the patient to continue engagement.
1. Recommend the use of an integrated system
An integrated system with a smart bottle technology that reminds and tracks their dosing regimen, and can be accessed by the patient and/or pharmacist or nurse teams through an online portal. Make sure the technology is customizable to the patient’s preference of how they want to be reminded (via text, email or phone call), and tailored to the pharmacist’s preference of how they want to be notified of a patient’s activity that they are tracking. This integrated tool allows the healthcare teams to sustain ongoing patient engagement throughout the stages of the patient’s journey.
2. Suggest patient only use 1 pharmacy
This approach ensures that all patient records are at a single location, which can help pharmacists mitigate adverse events, according to the article. With each new prescription, the risk of drug-drug interactions increases. It also allows pharmacists to better track patient progress over time and potentially guide new therapeutic recommendations.
3. Discuss the option of early refills whenever possible
If medication refills are all scheduled for the same time of the month or every 90 days, patients may be less likely to forget to refill their prescription, according to the article.
4. Encourage patients to keep a medication list
Patients should keep a list of medications they take, including the name of the drug, the dosage, when they take it, and what condition it is for, according to the article. Pharmacists should advise patients to give a copy to their physician and loved ones in case of an emergency. This can allow providers to quickly determine whether side effects or interactions may occur.
5. Give yearly “brown bag” medication reviews
Patients should round up all of the medications they take—including OTC drugs and dietary supplements—for an annual review at the pharmacy. Pharmacists can make sure that patients are on the right medications and are not taking OTC treatments or vitamins that may diminish the efficacy of important therapies.