When it comes to your health, you don’t want to take any chances. You select the best physician, a state-of-the-art facility, and cutting-edge treatments and practices, but don’t stop there. Ensuring that your care provider is working with a medically integrated pharmacy is another box to check when it’s time to make important decisions about your health.
Whether you’re working with a physician for a chronic illness, life-threating condition or one-time injury, pharmaceuticals can be a big part of healing, but managing your medications can become tricky. You want to be sure you’re working with a pharmacist who understands the team approach to your treatment, and the best way to do that is to make sure you’ve selected to work with a medically integrated pharmacy.
A medically integrated pharmacy is a pharmacy that is “in-house” or part of a medical facility or practice. Unlike stand-alone retail pharmacies, medically integrated pharmacies provide many benefits to patient care.
Support for complex medication regimens: As medical treatments advance, pharmaceuticals are becoming more complex. What used to be one pill with breakfast, and maybe another at dinner, can now be doses several times a day, and even different doses on varying days of the week.
“Often, the medications prescribed in oncology care are just as complex as traditional chemotherapy,” said Joshua Cox, Pharm.D., director of pharmacy for Dayton Physicians Network. “Because they are taken in pill form, people assume they are safer, but that’s not always the case.”
Having access to a pharmacist who understands the complexity of the medications you’re taking is an important part of the team of professionals working to help you heal. You need a pharmacist who will do more than just confirm your dose is reasonable and that it won’t interact with other prescriptions.
Access to real-time physician data: When your pharmacist is working in-house with your physicians, he or she has the ability to see to the same data as your doctors. “We can see all the physicians’ notes, lab values, imaging and scans, so we are seeing, in real time, the same information every other health care provider on your team is seeing,” Cox said.
Access to real-time information from a patient’s medical record means the pharmacist can help doctors and nurses make decisions that are the best for the patient.
Ensures better patient outcomes: Medication adherence and education is a large component of the medically integrated pharmacy method. With the team approach, pharmacists work with patients to counsel them about taking medications and what the side effects might be, which can help them monitor whether patients are taking medications correctly.
If side effects or a reaction does occur, the team approach allows these issues to be recognized quickly. With support from the physician, the medication can be safely stopped, if necessary, and side effects can be more effectively managed.
“If you can’t take a medication because of its side effects, it certainly cannot be effective,” Cox said. “With our robust medication adherence program, we can ensure patients are staying on their meds, making the medications more effective and leading to better outcomes.”
Provides cost savings and reduces waste: When it comes to complex medications with serious side effects, such as those administered for cancer treatment, physicians often make changes to help patients feel their best and heal more quickly.
“Doses are frequently changed by physicians, either because it’s intended or because the condition changes in some way,” Cox said. “When that happens, if the prescription is being filled at a pharmacy elsewhere, the delay in communication means the medication could be filled under orders that are no longer current.”
In situations like this with expensive drugs, one incorrectly filled prescription can equate to thousands of dollars thrown away. With a medically integrated pharmacy, pharmacists have access to information the moment the physician makes changes, meaning unnecessary prescriptions are never filled, reducing waste and saving money.
Don’t overlook the benefits of being able to include your pharmacist as a member of your health care team. With the integrated approach, you have the support you need for complex medications, could be better for the health of your body and your budget.