Once a month, Medicine Shoppe Owner Jana Bennett is alerted that one of her patients is due for a refill. But this is something different; this refill will take care of every different medication the patient takes.

Once a month, Medicine Shoppe Owner Jana Bennett is alerted that one of her patients is due for a refill. But this is something different; this refill will take care of every different medication the patient takes.

This alert is part of a medication synchronization program that works to focus on a pharmacist’s role with a patient. Bennett has this program at her pharmacies in both Sherman and Denison and there’s no additional cost. She said it helps her make sure her patients are taking their prescriptions completely and correctly.

The medication synchronization program is available to small, independent pharmacies who already work to focus on a personal relationship with the patient. Ateb is a company focused on adherence solutions — making sure patient’s are taking their prescriptions completely — and provided the medication synchronization technology to Bennett’s pharmacies.

"The health care problem in the United States is known to everyone," Ateb Customer Representative Kevin Newton said. "… Basically there is a direct correlation to roughly $300 billion a year of wasted medical or health care costs, due to the fact that patients on chronic medications are non-adherent. So one of the things that Ateb has done is identified a number of ways that pharmacies can become a solution."

The synchronization program is one of these methods. It works by coordinating a patient’s prescriptions to be filled on the same day of each month.

Bennett said one of the perks of the program is patients no longer having to call in their medications.

"About a week before their medications are due, we give them a call and say, ‘Hey has anything changed? Have you been to the doctor? Have you been to the hospital? Is everything rolling along like normal?’" Bennett said. "Which is great because it gives us a chance to reach out to them, and if they’re having any issues we can identify them before we fill everything for the next month."

The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association conducted a study over medical synchronization with an appointment by a pharmacist, which is what the Medicine Shoppe currently practices. The study found that medical synchronization when paired with time to speak with a pharmacist helps patients remember to take their medicine. The National Community Pharmacists Association also studied the program and found similar results.

Data in the study demonstrated that patients were 30 percent more likely to take their prescriptions completely when they enrolled in the program, and forgetting to take their medicine was reduced by 90 percent.

"There’s a quality of life component here for our patients too," Newton said. "… These are neighbors, and these are our friends, and these are the people we go to church with, so if we have a diabetic patient and his diabetes progresses (because of non-adherence), there’s a cost associated with that."

Bennett said her pharmacies go one step further with adherence by offering special compliance packaging.

"It’s a blister pack that puts in all the patient’s medications, and it’s labeled with their name and all their meds and when they’re supposed to take it," she said. "So we started offering this to our patients that are on medication synchronization, and it helps them keep track of everything. So even though you’re getting it all filled at the same time, you may not remember to take it every day at lunch. … So that’s kind of another piece of the puzzle that we’re adding for patients that need a little extra push to stay on track."

She said it was through this process that she and her staff were able to realize that one of their 75-year-old patients had not taken his heart medicine is over 100 days, and that the combination of drugs he was on made him loopy and incoherent.

"It promotes the opportunity for that pharmacist to engage that patient and find out how they’re feeling," Newton said. "’Are there any side effects? Are there better compounds that are out there to help them adjust to medication therapy?’ So it’s a better overall health experience for the patient. That’s the power of having that single month or multiple monthly appointment with the patients."

Bennett said, at first, she was averse to having one more piece of technology to run and keep up with..

"When we started seeing the results and seeing how well the patients were doing on it and how much they liked having that personal contact and getting everything all at the same time, we were like, ‘OK we have to do this,’" she said.

And the program has grown from there.

"We’ve got almost 600 patients on it now," she said. "It’s really been a good thing."