MD + PharmD = Better Patient Health

Physicians and pharmacists play a critical role in the health outcomes of patients. 

Communication between both health care providers is essential -- especially during a pandemic. With limited social interaction and coronavirus worries, patients are experiencing higher levels of stress. This added stress is leading to an increase in non-adherence and fewer visits to the doctor’s office. 

Ghada Abukuwaik, owner of CureMed Specialty Pharmacy, and Thomas E. Sullivan, Chief Strategic Officer of DrFirst, discuss the importance of collaboration between physicians and pharmacists in the Pharmacy Podcast Network series “Care Collaboration.”

To listen to the full podcast, please click below.

Medication Adherence During a Pandemic 

“It's so important that patients don’t stop taking their medication,” says Sullivan, “We've seen in the COVID pandemic that the people who have the worst outcomes are the ones who have chronic underlying health conditions.” Sullivan, a board-certified specialist in cardiology and medicine, understands first-hand the effects of non-adherence. 

When a patient fails to properly take their medications, they either experience no beneficial effects (at best) or a negative health reaction. It is crucial for patients to be in the best state of health during a pandemic.  

“Especially now, the health and well being of our patients is our first priority,” says Abukuwaik. At CureMed Pharmacy, patients with chronic diseases receive assistance through compliance pouch packaging -- using the RapidPakRx

“Each pouch is transcribed with the name of each med, as well as the date and time they need to be taken,” says Abukuwaik. The RapidPakRx has a built-in, unique three-step vision verification system that ensures the accuracy of each multi-med pouch. With the time saved on pharmacist verification, staff at CureMed Pharmacy can spend more time with patients, offering MTM services that help improve patient health. 

“Compliance packaging has effectively enabled us to solve the non-adherence problem, and decrease the hospitalization of patients and increase overall health management,” adds Abukuwaik. 

Working Together Towards Better Health 

When physicians and pharmacists work together, there is a better understanding of the health needs of patients. At CureMed Pharmacy, patients with multiple medications are placed on a synchronization program that schedules a pick up date for their prescriptions on the same day each month. 

“They may be experiencing side effects, and we use this information to create a good plan of action to accommodate their needs,” says Abukuwaik. “Usually this is done with our doctors, who collaborate with us for patient needs and health.”

During a check-up, a patient often shares the side effects of their medications. Physicians can take this information and discuss it with the pharmacist to create a health plan that better fits the needs of the patient. 

“We have apps that allow for asynchronous text messaging, and that can escalate to video. So, the patient, the pharmacist and the physician can all be part of the team, as well as the other people that support them,” adds Sullivan. 

Moving Towards Technology

“Telemedicine has taken off, because a lot of people don't want to come to the doctor's office because they think the waiting room will be full of sick people,” says Sullivan. With an increasing pressure to social distance, and some states placing stay-at-home orders again, telemedicine technology can be leveraged to provide a safer experience for patients. 

Some independent pharmacy owners are moving towards telepharmacy. Telepharmacy is the practice of providing pharmaceutical care in locations where a patient might not have direct contact with a pharmacist. 

“I see that this is going to be a great tool in the future for patients who are in need of this kind of service,” says Abukuwaik. “Some patients are so happy with telemedicine nowadays.”

“Pharmacists have a lasting impact on the wellness and happiness of patients, as well as the community,” says Abukuwaik. “An excellent pharmacy can not only provide the basic services expected, such as filling prescriptions, but can create a sense of home for the people. This is especially the case with community pharmacists, as we are able to go the extra mile when it comes to personal care and mental healthcare,” says Abukuwaik. 

To listen to the full podcast, please click below.

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