The Benefits of Telemedicine

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With the spread of COVID-19 on the rise, the need to social distance is especially necessary if you are considered high risk for severe illness. Since staying home is the only way to ensure you stay healthy telecommunication has never been more necessary and helpful. This pandemic has sparked a surge in telemedicine, telehealth and online resources to offer various health-related services remotely.1

How Can Telepharmacy Help?

Appropriately trained and equipped pharmacists can use telepharmacy to provide pharmaceutical care over the phone. With the use of telepharmacy, pharmacists can improve patient access to care, provide credible information and awareness (eg, hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, remind patients to get influenza vaccine), enable successful comprehensive medication management, provide recommendations for symptom management, and help triage and refer patients to higher levels of care when diagnostic testing is warranted.

Tria Health utilizes pharmacists to provide these services over the phone with success in outreaching to high risk patients, improving patient health and helping them find ways to reduce costs.

Patient Success with COVID-19

Tria Health provides chronic condition management, meaning many of our patients are at a higher risk for COVID-19, so Tria Health’s pharmacists have been actively educating engaged patients on risk factors, medication safety and prevention techniques. With Tria Health’s telephonic capabilities, we are actively engaging to ensure the health and wellness of our members. Take for example these two patient experiences:

A 64-year-old patient with heart failure could not afford one of their critical medications. As a result, they were going to their cardiologist office every 2-3 weeks to get samples. In the midst of COVID-19, these office visits were exposing the patient to unnecessary risk with frequent trips to their doctor. The Tria Health pharmacist was able to sign the patient up for a manufacturer coupon at an affordable copay. In addition, Tria Health had the prescription sent to a pharmacy with a drive through pick up to allow for appropriate social distancing for this high-risk individual.

A 43-year-old patient with asthma was extremely anxious about their underlying asthma and their risk for COVID-19. The patient informed their Tria Health pharmacist that they were worried about distinguishing their asthma symptoms from possible COVID-19 symptoms. The Tria Health pharmacist educated the patient about the difference in symptoms and how to monitor themselves. The pharmacist stressed the important components of hand hygiene and social distancing.  The patient was incredibly appreciative for this information and felt much less anxious with their improved knowledge.

Tria Health is providing additional communication and outreach to stress the importance of good health management and inform members that Tria’s pharmacists are a valuable and convenient resource during this current health crisis. Tria Health is committed to assisting members with any questions they may have about their medications, risk factors or ways they can mitigate their risk. 1.888.799.8742.

Sources:

  1. https://www.drugtopics.com/latest/telehealth-services-online-resources-aim-enhance-health-care-amid-covid-19-pandemic

Is it Time to Deprescribe?

Man pouring out one pill from bottle
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It’s important to review your current medication regimen on a yearly basis with a clinician. Older adults are taking a multitude of pills, with 66 percent taking five or more and 27 percent taking 10 or more.1 Some of these medications may not even be necessary anymore. While most people rely on their primary physician, “physicians often don’t have enough information about what patients are taking, or may lack the time to talk to patients about these medications.”1 So who can patients talk to about their medications? Pharmacists.

One in Five Older Adults are on an Inappropriate Medication

While medications can be extremely beneficial in managing chronic conditions, taking multiple medications at once can create some risk. About one-third of adverse events in hospitalizations include a drug-related harm, leading to longer hospital stays and greater expense. The National Academy of Medicine estimated that there are 400,000 preventable adverse drug events in hospitals each year, costing $3.5 billion. At least one in five older patients are on an inappropriate medication — one that they can do without or that can be switched to a different, safer drug.2

Pharmacist Involvement Improves Overall Care

Pharmacists do so much more than just dispense prescriptions. They have a wealth of knowledge to assist patients with safe medication use, potential drug interactions as well as preventative services and over the counter medications. There have been a multitude of studies conducted over the years measuring patient improvement when a pharmacist is included as part of the care team working with the physician. In a recent study, published in JAMA, patients were randomly assigned to two groups. With one group, pharmacists gave both patients and their physicians educational materials on the specific drug that might have been inappropriately prescribed. The control group got the usual care, with no educational materials. Within six months, 43 percent of the patients in the intervention group had stopped taking one of the selected medicines. The corresponding figure was 12 percent in the control group.

Tria Health’s Pharmacists

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients that drive the majority of health care spend. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your medication-related questions.

Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/upshot/pharmacists-drugs-health-unsung-role.html?register=google
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/upshot/how-many-pills-are-too-many.html?module=inline

Pharmacists and Vaccinations: A Perfect Match

Syringe surrounded by three bottles
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The CDC considers vaccinations to be one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.1-3 Thanks to vaccines, the incidence, morbidity, mortality, and prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases have considerably diminished since vaccinations became available. Unfortunately, while vaccines are considered safe and effective in preventing illness, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 US adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year.4-5 In order to improve the overall vaccination rate, it’s important we utilize all our resources. Pharmacists are easily accessible and can be instrumental in providing patients with pertinent information to help them make informed choices regarding immunizations.

Why Vaccines are Important

There are two main benefits for vaccination:

  1. You can help lower your chance of getting certain disease
    • Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer.
    • HPV vaccine lowers your risk of cervical cancer.
    • Flu vaccine lowers your risk of flu-related heart attacks or other flu-related complications from existing health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
  2. You can lower your chance of spreading disease.
    • Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition. They rely on you to help prevent the spread of disease.
    • Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious disease.

Vaccines are both effective and safe. They go through years of testing before the FDA licenses them for use. Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.6

Recommended Immunization Schedules

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the following vaccination schedules:

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations. They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.7

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Sources:

  1. Oldfield BJ, Stewart RW. Common misconceptions, advancements, and updates in pediatric vaccine administration. South Med J. 2016;109(1):38-41. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000399.
  2. Ventola CL. Immunization in the United States: recommendations, barriers, and measures to improve compliance: part 2: adult vaccinations. P T. 2016;41(8):492-506.
  3. Temoka E. Becoming a vaccine champion: evidence-based interventions to address the challenges of vaccination. S D Med. 2013;(theme issue): 68-72.
  4. Bach AT, Goad JA. The role of community pharmacy-based vaccination in the USA: current practice and future directions. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2015;4:67-77. doi: 10.2147/IPRP.S63822.
  5. Poland GA, Schaffner W, Hopkins RH Jr, US Department of Health & Human Services. Immunization guidelines in the United States: new vaccines and new recommendations for children, adolescents, and adults. Vaccine. 2013;31(42):4689-4693. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.03.031.
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/reasons-to-vaccinate.html
  7. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2019/january2019/adult-vaccination-rates-are-rising-but-fall-short

Pharmacists and Optimized Drug Therapy

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

It seems the older you get the more medications accumulate. About 30 percent of older adults in the United States and Canada filled a prescription in the last few years for one of many medications that the American Geriatrics Society recommends they avoid. In addition, 66 percent of older adults are taking five drugs or more per day – some of them are no longer necessary and may even be causing harm.1 While there’s been a lot of focus placed on physicians to help curb this problem there may be another solution: Pharmacists.

The Benefit of Pharmacists

Pharmacists do so much more than just dispense prescriptions. They have a wealth of knowledge to assist patients with safe medication use, potential drug interactions as well as preventative services and over the counter medications. Pharmacists are often available when other health care providers are not, and most often do not require you to schedule an appointment to ask questions about your healthcare needs.

Pharmacists are an Ideal Partner for Physicians

There have been a multitude of studies conducted over the years measuring patient improvement when a pharmacist is included as part of the care team working with the physician. In a recent study, published in JAMA, patients were randomly assigned to two groups. With one group, pharmacists gave both patients and their physicians educational materials on the specific drug that might have been inappropriately prescribed. The control group got the usual care, with no educational materials. Within six months, 43 percent of the patients in the intervention group had stopped taking one of the selected medicines. The corresponding figure was 12 percent in the control group.

Tria Health’s Pharmacists

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients that drive the majority of health care spend. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your medication-related questions.

Tria Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/upshot/pharmacists-drugs-health-unsung-role.html is

Thank your Pharmacist – Today is National Pharmacist Day!

Today is the perfect time to learn more about the impact your pharmacist has on the health care system and what they can do for you.

PHARMACISTS ARE MEDICATION EXPERTS

Pharmacists are trained on a wide variety of different disease states, but their specialty focuses on how medications used to treat those diseases affect your health. They understand how medications work and identify medication interactions and problems, including those involving over-the-counter medications.

A pharmacist has the ability to look at all of your prescription medications as a whole to determine if your medications are safe, appropriate and effective to manage your health condition(s). They may also be able to assess if you’re taking medications you no longer need, if you have therapy duplication, if you’re missing a certain medication that is proven to help your specific condition(s), or if you’re taking something that could potentially be harmful to your health. The pharmacist may also be able to suggest alternative drug options to lessen side effects, or reduce your drug costs.

PHARMACISTS ARE THE MOST ACCESSIBLE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

Pharmacists are often available when other health care providers are not, and most often do not require you to schedule an appointment to ask questions about your healthcare needs.

PHARMACISTS PROVIDE MUCH MORE THAN MEDICATION DISPENSING

Aside from dispensing medications, pharmacists can provide excellent counselling services about all medications (including herbal supplements) and a variety of different health conditions. Pharmacists play a major role in monitoring or managing multiple chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight loss, and tobacco use. In fact, it has been proven that patients have better overall health outcomes if a pharmacist is involved on their healthcare team. Pharmacists are also a major resource for administering vaccines to adults 12 years or older.

HOW TRIA HEALTH PHARMACISTS CAN HELP YOU

If you have one or more chronic conditions and take multiple medications, Tria Health has a Pharmacy Advocate Program available for you. The PA program offers one-on-one confidential counseling with a Tria Pharmacist to discuss how effective your medications are in treating your conditions. Your Tria Pharmacist will work with you and your physicians to reduce the risk of medication-related problems.

Want to learn more about Tria Health Pharmacists?

Call us toll-free at 1.888.799.8742 or visit our website at www.triahealth.com.