What You Might Not Know About Medication Therapy Management
Amanda Bektas, Pharm.D.
If you take more than one medication, it's a good idea to have a routine check-up for your medicines, just like you would have an annual physical at your doctor’s office. Consulting with a healthcare provider to make sure everything is going smoothly and trying to identify or prevent problems before they happen is the basis of preventative care, and it can have HUGE positive impacts on your health in the long term. What you might not know is that if you have a Medicare Part D plan, this kind of service called a Comprehensive Medication Review, may already be part of your benefit offered at no extra cost.
Also called a CMR, a Comprehensive Medication Review is more than just checking off your current medications at your routine doctor’s visit. A CMR is an appointment with a pharmacist committed to making sure your medications are working the best they possibly can for you.
You might be wondering: Doesn't my doctor already do that?
When you see your doctor for a routine physical or specific health concern, they gather information by examining you, taking bloodwork or doing other tests, and then using the information they gathered to diagnosis the likely cause of the problem. Your doctor or other provider may also prescribe medication, as part of the treatment they recommend. They evaluate the risks and benefits of different treatments and do lots of other things during your visit. But just because a drug was right for you when you started it, doesn't mean it will continue to be right for you forever.
Every person is unique, and your specific situation may change over time:
· Some drugs are meant to be taken for short periods but are mistakenly continued long-term.
· Adding a new drug (or stopping an old one) may cause a new side effect that you may not even be aware could be caused by a medication.
· With age, your body may respond differently to certain drugs.
· Certain medicines commonly used by younger adults are riskier in older adults — causing concerns about issues like falls, bone fractures, or confusion.
· Your medicines may even seem alright on paper. But if you have trouble taking them as directed for any reason, the clinical pharmacist can help you address problems like difficulty with administration, cost, access, or adverse effects and more.
Your doctor and pharmacist work together as members of your “healthcare team.”
A visit with a clinical pharmacist will not replace a visit with your doctor. But reviewing your medications and discussing any concerns you have or areas that you hope to improve with a pharmacist is like seeing a specialist with eight or more years of specialized education, who can focus specifically on your medications. Many primary care practices incorporate this kind of visit with a pharmacist, to provide education, gather additional information on how you are doing, and guide decisions you make with your doctor regarding your healthcare.
Think your medications are fine?
We hope so too, but if there was any area that could be improved wouldn’t you want to know? And since one of the most valuable things you can do for your health is have good information, a visit with a clinical pharmacist can help answer common questions like,
· Could I explain to a new provider why I take each of my medications?
· Do I know how to tell if each medicine is working well for me?
· Do I ever miss a dose or take my medicine late for any reason?
· If there is a medicine that is no longer benefiting me, would I want to stop taking it?
· If a different drug would save money, would I want to know about it?
· Do I have prescriptions from more than one doctor or fill at more than one pharmacy?
· If I've taken the same medicine for years, am I sure it's still safe for me?
· When did you last have an in-depth discussion about each of your medications with your doctor?
Just so you know:
1. The pharmacist will not change your medications. The purpose of a CMR is to make sure you have the best information to have informed discussions with your healthcare team about your health conditions and medication choices. The decision to make any changes is still between you and your provider.
2. A CMR doesn’t mean your doctor or other provider isn’t closely monitoring your health. Medications are changing all the time, and your doctor is busy overseeing many aspects of your health. Having a qualified pharmacist do a thorough check-up of your medicines helps your doctor help you. Your doctor may already be working with a clinical pharmacist or referring their patients to this kind of program.
3. Your participation won’t change your prescription coverage. This part of your benefit is separate from the coverage of medicines you fill at your dispensing pharmacy and whether you choose to participate or make any changes, that part of your coverage will not be affected.
4. The goal of a comprehensive medication review is to help you make informed decisions to stay as healthy as possible. The clinical pharmacist works to ensure that you and your health care team have the information you need to do that.