For the month of March, we will be contributing to a series called What’s Your March? Effective change isn’t immediate; it’s a slow, gradual march towards success that requires thoughtful planning and execution. Whether your patients approach you for help with their goals, or you would like to proactively offer your in-depth care to the familiar faces you see each month, these strategies will make the pharmacy a key factor in improved patient health. You can read Part One here.
Creating a goal is easy. Putting it into action, on the other hand, is where many ambitious goal-setters fall short. Many of your patients have goals they are struggling to fulfill on their own, but you can step in and create a realistic plan that will guarantee better outcomes for your patients.
In Part 1 of our What’s Your March? series, we covered ways you can locate those patients who could benefit from more care and attention from the pharmacy. Now that you’ve determined who those patients are, it’s time to put together a plan that will lead to results. After all, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” according to author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Josh Rimany, owner and pharmacist in charge at Dilworth Drug & Wellness Center in Charlotte, NC, has embraced a different approach to patient care. His patients’ chronic conditions — stress, diabetes, and obesity — can become more problematic than they already are, so Josh and his team proactively treat their patients with methods that go beyond their medication. “I call it the ‘non-dispensing model,’” he says. Building a plan centered on wellness, not just symptom relief, is the norm at Dilworth Drug. For chronic care patients on multiple therapies, enrolling them in a medication synchronization program is an excellent foundation to a health management plan. “You don’t normally stop a medication,” Josh attests. “You just add more.” Keep your patients’ medications at a low number by ensuring their adherence to their current prescriptions.
Because Josh and his staff see these patients at least once a month, they have built a relationship and rapport based on trust. “We’re taking that patient trust and recommending lifestyle changes, dietary supplements, and health coaching. What can we do that’s not dispensing that we can work on in this health realm?” Among Josh’s strategies for elevating patient care, health coaching is an excellent way to keep your patients on track for their goals, especially if they already show signs of low adherence. “You really need an accountability person, and you need that coaching aspect care,” Josh affirms. Once you enroll a new patient into your pharmacy’s medication synchronization program (or other long term care management program), assign a staff member to be their health coach. This person will be the patient’s point of contact at the pharmacy for periodic check-ins, monthly sync calls, and the go-to for questions and concerns. Fulfilling health goals is much easier with an accountability partner.
Another strategy is to build an eCare Plan around your patient’s goals. In PioneerRx, there are predetermined Care Goals that are automatically assigned to MTM (Medication Therapy Management) Actions. These MTM Actions prompt specific care-related actions, such as “counsel patient on adherence” or “follow up with patient’s prescriber.” Care Plans allow for measurable patient care that involves all facets of healthcare and is results-driven. (Look for more details on Care Plans in next week’s installment of What’s Your March?)
Although medication may help with chronic conditions, it shouldn’t be viewed as the be-all-end-all solution, as Josh has observed during his 16 years in pharmacy. “Prescriptions are the start, not the end, of your treatment plan,” he concludes. While alleviating the symptoms, you should also become a trusted source of guidance and care for your patients who want to accomplish their health-related goals this year.
Quit wishing for healthier patients. Plan for it.
As you implement your plan for your patients’ goals, make sure you track your progress. In our third and final edition, we will show you different ways to measure your patients’ success and what to do with that data.