Medication management program saves lives, improves health

Joy Wahawisan, Pharm. D., BCPS

Published: Sept. 29, 2015

Three months after its launch, a new medication management program led by a Physicians Health Plan (PHP) Clinical Pharmacist is already saving lives and improving the health of Patients in the mid-Michigan region.

The program successfully intervened in a cardiac Patient’s plan to discontinue her life-saving drug therapies, helped a psychiatric Patient find a more manageable treatment plan, and prevented a potential overdose of hypertension medications. It is also helping chronically ill Patients to coordinate complicated care and medication regimens between multiple pharmacies and Physicians.

Joy Wahawisan, Pharm. D., BCPS, launched the program in July with a Sparrow Brunch with a Doctor event, “10 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most out of Your Medications.” The goal was to educate Patients in the proper use and interactions of prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements.

Wahawisan also introduced Medication Therapy Management (MTM), a free service for all Patients covered by PHP, a subsidiary of Sparrow. The Pharmacist-directed program helps Patients understand and manage their medication regimen and assists prescribers in avoiding potential medication-related problems. Once enrolled, Patients regularly meet one-on-one with a Pharmacist to evaluate all of their medications for efficacy, side effects, compliance, and other drug therapy issues.

MTM is an important innovation that advances Sparrow’s mission to provide coordinated, comprehensive care that puts the needs of the Patient first. The results have been dramatic:

• Unbeknownst to her Physician, a woman treated for atrial fibrillation was planning to stop taking the medications used to keep her heart in normal rhythm and to prevent stroke, simply because she’d read about possible side effects. The Pharmacist was able to calm her fear and help her understand why the medications were crucial to maintain her health. Just as importantly, the Pharmacist relayed those concerns to the Physician for follow-up to ensure her life-saving drug therapies would continue.

• A psychiatric Patient was having difficulty taking the daily medications used to treat his bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The Pharmacist helped him work with his Psychiatrist to develop a more tolerable monthly regimen of medications that would enable him to continue a healthy, productive life.

• During an MTM consultation, the PHP Pharmacist discovered that a female Patient was misreading her prescription labels and inadvertently taking three or four times the correct dosage of a hypertension medicine prescribed by her Physician. The Pharmacist was able to correct this potentially dangerous mistake, and also resolved the Patient’s confusion and misuse of vitamin supplements and asthma inhalers.

• In several cases, Patients with multiple chronic illnesses were taking a complicated mix of 15 to 20 prescribed and over-the-counter medicines and supplements for a variety of symptoms—often without even knowing the names of specific drugs and products they were taking. The Pharmacist was able to compile and coordinate the data for the Physicians and pharmacies involved in various aspects of the Patients’ care.

“Proper management of prescriptions and other medicines is one of the most important issues in health care. When used properly, medications are among the most effective tools we have in fighting disease,” said Wahawisan. “Proper medication use can lower health care costs and improve health outcomes for Patients.”

Medication Therapy Management will be highlighted at an upcoming Brown Bag event sponsored by Sparrow Pharmacists to celebrate National Pharmacy Week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 20-21 in Sparrow Hospital’s Main Lobby. The general public is invited to bring in all their medications—prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Sparrow Clinical Pharmacists and Doctor of Pharmacy students will be on hand to review their medications, field questions, discuss drug interactions, and give advice on generic alternatives.

Choose Wisely. Choose Sparrow.