How many times a month do you find yourself at the pharmacy dropping off prescriptions or picking up refills? If you’re like the 69 million Americans taking three or more prescriptions for chronic illnesses, you probably find yourself making multiple trips to the pharmacy each month. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are programs that are being used by community pharmacies which allow your medications to be refilled on the same day each month. These medication synchronization (or ‘med sync’) services offer a convenience for many people who are managing chronic conditions and needing to take multiple medications. If you take several medications to manage a medical condition that requires long-term medication use, it may help you to keep taking your medicines by picking them up with one visit to the pharmacy.
Improving medication adherence
Medication adherence refers to people taking their medications as prescribed (e.g., not skipping or missing doses), as well as continuing to take it as long as it is prescribed. It may be hard to believe, but approximately 50% of people stop taking their chronic medications within six months of a new prescription.
Adherence is of particular concern because not taking medication as prescribed can lead to adverse health outcomes. It can also result in increased health costs to the people with chronic illnesses as well as to the healthcare system.
Improving adherence is complicated because there are many different reasons people stop taking their medications. These may include cost, cultural and/or religious beliefs, forgetfulness, a worry that the medication isn’t helping, or a feeling that the medication side effects are intolerable.
Med sync programs
More and more pharmacies are offering a med sync program. To find out whether your pharmacy offers this service, simply ask your pharmacist.
Another way to locate a participating pharmacy nearest you is to visit http://Simplysync.net and enter your zip code or search for your state on the Pharmacy Locator. SimplySync.net is a website that was created and funded by Pfizer.
SimplySync.net lists many of the pharmacies that offer a med sync program. Note that not all pharmacies that offer a med sync program have chosen to be listed on this site.
How it works
Once you find a pharmacy that offers the service, speak with the pharmacist about signing up. The pharmacy care team will then review your ongoing monthly prescriptions and sync them up. After that, your prescription refills will be completed on the same day, instead of on several random days throughout each month, reducing the number of trips to the pharmacy for you.
About a week before the day your prescriptions are due for a refill, the pharmacy will call you to confirm your medications. The phone call may include asking you the following questions:
- Have you seen your doctor since the last time you refilled your prescriptions?
- Has anything significant changed in your health or your medications since the last time your refilled your prescriptions?
- Have you been in the hospital since the last time you refilled your prescriptions?
Depending on your responses, you may be given the opportunity to discuss your current situation with the pharmacist or pharmacy staff. They will discuss with you whether the matter should be handled by you or the pharmacy team. They may communicate directly with your doctor or offer you guidance on resolving any issues.
Med sync programs can help you stay on your medicine and stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can. They can help to improve your experience at the pharmacy and increase communication between you, your pharmacist and your doctor.
David W. Searle, PharmD, is the Director of Pharmacy Development at Pfizer.
Paula DeCola, RN, MSc., is a Director within External Medical Affairs at Pfizer.
Originally written: September 25, 2015
Reviewed and updated: March 6, 2018
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