Tria Health: Ask A Pharmacist Edition

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
Image Source: iStock.com/macrovector

The Tria Health Pharmacists love their careers and the work that they do! They have a unique opportunity to counsel patients about their medical conditions, prescription medications, , over-the-counter medications and supplements, as well as their lifestyle, which all play an important role in managing health. This service is called Chronic Condition Management (CCM).

The CCM Difference that Tria Health offers is more comprehensive than medication management or disease management solutions. It is a patient-centered solution that values individual uniqueness and focuses on increasing engagement; improving health outcomes and delivering a return on investment!

Because medication plays an important role in chronic condition management, Pharmacists are key to improving health outcomes and, in many cases, saving patients money!

Tria Health also offers a patient help desk, so patients may ask pharmacists any medication-related questions.

To highlight our fabulous clinical team, we thought we’d take this public and share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers!

FAQ

Question: When is the best time to take my medicine?

Answer:

Some medications do have a specific time that is “best” to be most efficacious. For example, a cholesterol lowering medications, such as a “statins”, are best taken at bedtime due to much of the body’s cholesterol synthesis occurring in the evening. Therefore, taking statins at bedtime has the most cholesterol lowering effect. Another example, thyroid medications are best taken on an empty stomach separated from other medications and foods by 30-60 minutes to be best absorbed. Thyroid medications will bind or adhere to other foods and medications which would therefore decrease the absorption. As wonderful as efficacy is, the most important thing is to be as consistent as possible when taking your medications. Consistently taking your medications means taking them the same time each day, with or without food. Our lives can be hectic, between work, kids, volunteering, THE HOLIDAYS, etc. and sometimes remembering to take your medication AT ALL each day, let alone with the most “efficacious” measures, can be a challenge. Medication doses will be adjusted based on your regular and most updated lab work. So, the bottom line is, consistency is key!

Question: What can I take for my cough?  It is keeping me up all night. 

Answer:

If cough is productive increase humidity in the bedroom and try to increase fluids.  Delsym or Robitussin 12-hr Cough are both great options at night to suppress cough. They contain dextromethorphan only so you are not getting a bunch of other ingredients that aren’t needed.  Try NOT to suppress a productive cough during the day.  Mucinex during the day can help thin mucus and allow for easier clearing of congestion.

Question:  My supplements are all-natural, so they should be totally safe, right?

Answer:

Not all supplements are safe for all people even though they might be “all-natural”.  Certain supplements or vitamins can increase risk of bleeding or cause interactions with other medications and lead to serious side effects.  It is always a good idea to check with a pharmacist or doctor before starting any vitamins or supplements to ensure they are safe.

Tria Health offers solutions to improve cost and care for patients, employers & their broker partners.

 Do you have a question for a pharmacist? Comment below and they will happily answer! 

 

 

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Heartburn isn’t fun—anyone who has had it will tell you that it can be very painful. Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux, is a burning sensation in the central chest or upper central abdomen. The pain sometimes rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat or angle of the jaw.

Physicians will often prescribe a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) to treat chronic heartburn symptoms for their patients. However, these medications are also available over-the-counter, without the careful watch of a physician. Unfortunately, this could be potentially dangerous.

In 2010, the FDA issued a safety announcement about PPI’s that stated while PPI’s are effective in treating a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, the long-term use of PPI’s may be harmful to the body.

The FDA wants consumers and healthcare professionals to be aware that for many conditions including simple heartburn, PPI’s should only be taken as directed for 14 days, no more than three 14-day treatment courses in one year. Chronic daily use of PPI’s should be limited to serious gastrointestinal disorders such as recurrent bleeding stomach ulcers or erosive esophagitis. If you are taking an over-the-counter PPI, you should carefully read and follow the enclosed instructions.

At Tria Health, our pharmacists discuss all medications a patient may be taking—both prescription and over-the-counter. Our pharmacists review PPI use to determine appropriateness of therapy and identify patients that are good candidates for drug discontinuation.  We then work with their physicians to confirm if discontinuation is appropriate and recommend alternative treatment options, when needed.

Your friends at Tria Health want to ensure your safety. If you have been taking a PPI long-term, please talk to your physician or pharmacist.

It’s National Influenza Vaccination Week! It’s NOT too late to get your flu shot!

Doctor with Sign Reading Flu Shot
Image Source: iStock.com/CatLane

Established by the CDC in 2005, the week of December 3rd is National Influenza Vaccination Week. During this week, we highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond.

The Flu is a contagious virus!

The flu is the real deal, folks! The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and can affect people of all ages, even those in good health. The CDC estimates that:

  • Since 2010, the flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States.
  • The flu results in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations each year.
  • Influenza-associated deaths ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 between 2011 – 2013.

Protect yourself and get a vaccine!

  • Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this potentially serious disease.
  • A vaccine also protects people around you, especially babies, young children, older people and people with certain chronic conditions.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your T-Zone (eyes, nose and mouth).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (or a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol).
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.

Flu shots are available at many locations!

Visit your primary care physician (PCP) to get your flu shot today! If you don’t have a PCP, or need to find someplace to go, visit the CDC’s HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find someplace close to home or work.

Learn more

Visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Flu Season to learn what’s new this flu season.

For yourself and those around you, Tria Health recommends getting your annual flu vaccine.

It’s National Handwashing Awareness Week! Spread the word, not the germs!

This week is National handwashing awareness week. The CDC reports that handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent spreading germs.

Protect yourselves and your family from getting sick by practicing this easy and effective germ-killing exercise. Your immune system will thank you.

Your friends at Tria Health would like to share a few tips on handwashing!

Stay away from your “T-Zone”!

The T-Zone is your eyes, nose and mouth. Do what you can to avoid touching these areas, as getting germs into these areas put you at risk for developing flu-like illnesses.

Make sure you’re washing your hands often, but especially during these key times:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for a sick loved one
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • After using the restroom
  • After changing diapers
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing (or anytime you touch the T-zone)
  • After touching animals
  • After touching trash

The proper way to wash your hands

  • Wet your hands first
  • Lather your hands with soap (Make sure you get the backs of your hands, in between fingers and under fingernails)
  • Scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or the air-drying method

Good, old-fashioned soap and water is the best way to keep your hands clean. But, if you don’t have soap and water available, the CDC recommends using a hand-sanitizer that is a minimum of 60% alcohol.

This week (and always), please remember to wash your hands to reduce the spread of illness. Just say no to germs

Are you or your loved ones at risk of harmful drug interactions?

Close up of assorted pills and prescriptions
Image Source: iStock.com/klenova

An average Tria Health patient takes 8 prescription medications. Most older Americans take multiple medications each day for a variety of conditions. Typically, when people have multiple chronic conditions, they see multiple prescribing physicians.

Do you think those prescribing physicians talk to one another?

In many cases, the answer is, unfortunately, no.

A new study, called “Improving Health and the Bottom Line: The Case for Health Literacy,” showed how greater health literacy can improve community health, reduce health costs, enhance the quality of care and improve patient and provider experiences.  The lead author of the report, Stan Hudson, said “the relationship between health literacy and health outcomes is very important. We found that low health literacy is a contributing factor for readmission for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Hudson also made a point that “health literacy helps ensure the best quality of care for everyone.”

The CDC reports that about half of the adults in the United States have inadequate skills when it comes to understanding their health care options.

In another study, National Poll on Healthy Aging found that 1 in 3 who take at least one prescription drug had talked to a health care professional about possible drug interactions. Among those taking six or more medications, less than half had discussed possible drug interactions.

Drug interactions could, best case scenario, prevent medicine from absorbing properly. Worst case scenarios put people at risk of blood sugar issues, kidney damage or even death. Due to the variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs available, even medical professionals are challenged with identifying potential drug interactions.

Additionally, 1 in 5 respondents said they had used more than one pharmacy in the past two years (including mail order pharmacies), and 3 in 5 see more than one doctor for their care. While 63% of the respondents said their doctor and pharmacists are responsible for identifying potential drug interactions, only 36% said their pharmacist definitely knew about all their medications when they fill a prescription.

Knowledge is Power

This is our focus and expertise at Tria Health. Our team works diligently to improve health literacy among our patients. We have found that identifying drug therapy problems, drug interactions and discovering non-adherence issues are only possible by physically speaking with patients. We empower our patients by educating them on all their chronic conditions, their medications and we make recommendations to prescribing physicians to avoid harmful drug interactions and drug therapy problems. This educational approach has proven to reduce hospital readmissions and improve clinical outcomes for chronic conditions. This helps our patients live healthier lives and helps their employers save on their healthcare costs.

Tria Health encourages you to be an advocate for your own healthcare and take the time to learn more about all your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Knowledge is power.