National Drug Take Back Day is 10/24

Disposing of medications safely can help protect your family from getting or using medications that are expired or out of date; prevent the illegal use of unused medications and minimize any potential negative impact on the environment. For this reason, the DEA is giving the public an opportunity to dispose of unwanted and/or expired prescription drugs. This is a FREE and anonymous service—take medications back, no questions asked!

Why can’t I throw out my medications at home?

Unfortunately, throwing out your medications at home can lead to many harmful impacts on the environment or create safety risks for trash handlers. In addition, 53% of pain relievers for misuse are given by, bought or took from a friend or relative.1 It is important to safely dispose of your medications to help minimize the impact of the opioid epidemic.

Where do I go?

Visit the DEA’s website to find a collection site: https://takebackday.dea.gov/. Here you can input your zip code and find out where the closest drop off site is located.

What You Should Know  

The DEA can ONLY accept pills or patches. The DEA CANNOT accept liquids, needles, or sharps.

This initiative addresses both public safety and health concerns. Prescription medications left to expire in people’s homes are susceptible to misuse or abuse. Prescription drug abuse rates and overdose and accidental poisoning statistics are frighteningly high in the United States. Studies show that the majority or abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, or from home medicine cabinets.

The DEA now advises against “usual methods” for disposing of unused medications. Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash now both pose potential safety and health concerns.

 How can Tria Health Help?

As a member of Tria Health, if you have multiple medications and are afraid, you will throw away the wrong medication, we can provide additional assistance in selecting the proper medications. Tria provides one-on-one consultations with a clinical pharmacist who assists you with your medication management.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

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It can be very frustrating when you leave a doctor’s appointment and realize you forgot to mention something important. Many people feel like their appointments seem hurried and often leave confused. Being prepared for your appointment will help you get the most out of your visit. Below are tips on how to prepare before, during, and after your appointment.

Before the Appointment

  • Determine what you want to get out of the appointment. Is it a checkup? Are you wanting a new treatment plan? Make a list of all your concerns.
  • Write down questions you might have. Include any specific questions you may want to ask. By writing them down, you can make sure that you will not forget to ask something.
  • Fill out any forms. If you are going to a new doctor’s office, you might have forms you will need to fill out. Download or get a copy of the forms before your appointment to take away the stress of having to fill them out once you arrive.
  • Log relevant information. Prior to the appointment record information such as weight fluctuations, headaches, or how well you have been sleeping.
  • List all medications and supplements you are taking. Write down the name of the medication, brand if possible, and the dosage. Also, list what each medication is used for. This will ensure that you and your doctor are on the same page.
  • Have your medical information available. Come with detailed information of your own health, and that of your family members.
  • Describe your symptoms. The doctor will ask you to list any symptoms that you may have. Think about discussing when the issue started, where it is located, how often it occurs, and whether you have consulted with another medical practitioner before about this.

During the Appointment

  • Take notes. You can look back on them later in case you forget something.
  • Ask for a copy of any lab test results or medical records.
  • Understand the answers to three questions:
    1. What is my main problem?
    2. What do I need to do? Know exactly what actions to take to fix the issue. Should you make a lifestyle change, get a test done, or take different medication?
    3. Why is it important for me to do this? If you do not completely understand why an action is needed, you may be less likely to do it. Furthermore, if you are worried about whether you can afford a certain medication or test, do not be embarrassed to let your doctor know. They can potentially help you find something else to try.

After the Appointment

  • Know the timeline. If you get a test done, know how long it should take to get your results. Additionally, if you get a referral know how long you should wait to hear about an appointment.
  • Have a plan to document everything you have learned from the visit.
  • Create new goals based off the information the doctor gave you. Mobile applications are out there to help you take a new medication, drink more water, and reach other health goals.

Tria can help

If you are still feeling confused after your doctor’s appointment do not worry! For any questions you might have regarding your medication, Tria can help. Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.

Call the Tria Help Desk with any questions at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/lynda-shrager-the-organized-caregiver/ways-get-most-out-of-doctors-visits/
  2. https://globalnews.ca/news/4088270/doctors-appointment-advice/#:~:text=How%20to%20make%20the%20most%20of%20your%20doctor%E2%80%99s,address%20the%20…%203%20After%20the%20visit.%20
  3. https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-make-the-most-your-doctors-appointment.html

October is National Pharmacists Month

National Pharmacist Month is here! As experts in medications, pharmacists provide important guidance to patients and physicians to promote safe, effective, and affordable medication use. Tria Health believes pharmacists are an integral part of every patient’s health care team. This month we’d like to take a moment to celebrate our talented pharmacy team!

What is National Pharmacist Month?

National Pharmacist Month takes place every October. During the month, pharmacists are honored throughout the country. The goal of this month is to recognize pharmacists for the significant role they play in effective medication management, patient education and overall medication safety.

Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine

For the whole month, the slogan “Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine,” is encouraged to the community. Pharmacists provide important information on medication regimens. A patient cannot know about the medication they take without first knowing their pharmacist. This slogan is a reminder for patients to interact with their pharmacist to learn more about the medicine they take.

Important questions to ask when getting to know your pharmacist:

  • What is this medication used for?
  • How should I use this medication?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • When will the medicine begin to work?
  • How will I know if the medicine is working?
  • What side effects should I watch for?
  • Is there anything I should avoid while taking this medication?
  • How should I store this medication?

How Can Pharmacists Help You?

Pharmacists can support your health by:

  • Talking with you about your medicine. They help minimize side effects and safeguard against any possible interactions with other medications that lead to more expensive health care costs such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, etc.
  • Verifying your physician’s medication instructions.
  • Providing guidance on preventative services: More than 300,000 immunization-trained pharmacists administer vaccines, and nearly one in four adults receive their influenza vaccinations at their community pharmacy?Pharmacists can provide guidance on all vaccine-preventable diseases and which immunizations are best for you.
  • Advising you on general health topics.
  • Increasing medication adherence. When you are medication adherent and compliant, you save money, healthcare resources, and have better health outcomes. Pharmacists can help you maintain medication adherence by regularly checking in on you to see how you are doing. It is difficult to manage multiple medications, so it is great to have pharmacists there to help. To learn more about the importance of medication adherence check out: https://triahealthblog.com/2020/10/05/the-benefits-of-medication-reminders-for-non-adherent-and-non-compliant-patients/

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

Sources:

  1. http://67.222.18.91/~aphm/pharmacists-can-help/
  2. https://www.pharmacist.com/know-your-pharmacist-know-your-medicine#:~:text=The%20updated%20slogan%E2%80%94%22Know%20Your%20Pharmacist%2C%20Know%20Your%20Medicine%22%E2%80%94reflects,know%20their%20medicine%20without%20first%20knowing%20their%20pharmacist.
  3. https://caringpeopleinc.com/blog/american-pharmacists-month/#:~:text=National%20Pharmacist%E2%80%99s%20Month%20celebrates%20the%20accomplishments%20of%20pharmacists,to%20promote%20awareness%20and%20education%20on%20pharmacists%E2%80%99%20care.
  4. https://www.nclnet.org/know_your_medicine_know_your_pharmacist
  5. https://www.pharmacist.com/press-release/october-american-pharmacists-month

The Benefits of Medication Reminders for Non-Adherent and Non-Compliant Patients

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Medication adherence is the degree to which a patient follows a provider’s recommended medication treatment plan. Unfortunately, it is common to be medication non-adherent. It is also common to be medication non-compliant. This is when a patient deliberately and intentionally refuses medication. Both non-adherence and non-compliance are costly, consume health care resources, and contribute to poor health outcomes. Medications play a key role in treatment, which is why adherence and compliance is important. Medication reminders successfully contribute to patients becoming both adherent and compliant.

Medication Non-adherence

Medication non-adherence is when a patient unintentionally or intentionally refuses medication for reasons such as confusion, helplessness, or being overwhelmed. When patients practice some form of medication non-adherence, they are not getting the correct amount of medicine into their bodies at the right time. This can cause possible readmissions to the hospital, especially for people with chronic conditions. Once patients leave the hospital or doctor’s office, it is up to them to follow their medication regimen.

Non-adherence to the medication plan is often found in a patient who experiences the following:

  • Medication-related side effects
  • Belief that the medication is not working
  • Feeling better, belief that the medication is no longer needed
  • Cost of treatment
  • Lack of understanding
  • Lack of family support for medication taking

Medication Non-compliance

Medication non-compliance is the intentional choice to not take a medication according to the prescribed directions. There is a variety of reasons for this such as denial, depression, cultural issues, and questioning of a provider’s competence. Although medications are effective in combating disease, approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. While following instructions for your medications may seem simple, there are a lot of different factors that lead to medication non-compliance.

Non-compliance to a medication plan is often a result of these three factors:

  1. Patient-Related Factors: Inadequate health literacy is the main contributor. In the United States alone, an estimated 90 million adults have inadequate health literacy. Inadequate health literacy can lead to a lack of understanding their condition or medication instructions. To improve compliance, understanding the ‘why’ behind why patients do not take medications correctly and providing the appropriate education is an absolute necessity. The more a patient understands their condition and how to control it, the more likely they are to feel empowered and motivated to manage their disease and adhere to their medications.
  2. Physician- Related Factors: Physicians can often unintentionally lead to medication nonadherence by prescribing complex drug regimens, prescribing medications that may be unaffordable to the patient, or inadequately explaining possible side-effects a patient may experience. A solution to this is incorporating a pharmacist into the care team to provide medication education and spending more time with the patient when developing their care plan.
  3. Health System/Team Building Related Factors: Due to fragmented health systems, physicians do not have easy access to information from a patient’s numerous care providers. This can cause issues when developing an effect care strategy and communicating with a patient. Another factor in health systems that lead to non-compliance are drug costs, which can greatly limit a patient’s access to care. Increased implementation of electronic medical records and electronic prescribing has the potential to increase adherence by identifying patients at risk of nonadherence and targeting them for intervention.

Medication Reminder Apps

Traditional reminders like weekly pill boxes or packaged calendars are helpful for some patients but for others on more complex regiments, they just do not cut it. With electronic reminders it is easier to manage medications more efficiently. They are accessible, educate the patient, and provide a place for medication-specific information creating a more streamlined process.

There is a variety of free apps patients can download for little or no cost. Features of these apps include reminders for refills, medication information, drug discount codes, calendar-based alarms, and a place to log doses amongst others. These applications are a great strategy to incorporate as they aid patients and health care providers to improve medication-taking habits.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that mobile apps help to improve medication adherence, even for adults who lack experience with smartphones. When patients struggle with adherence and compliance, incorporating and utilizing a mobile app will benefit them as they reach their health goals.

How Does Tria Health Help Prevent Non-Compliance and Non-Adherence?

Tria Health is a no cost benefit offered through select health plans. 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 identify any medication interactions, affordable substitutions and answer any other medication-related questions you may have. At the end of your consultation, you will receive a customized care plan that Tria will assist in coordinating with any of your physicians.

Sources:

  1. https://www.capphysicians.com/articles/noncompliant-vs-non-adherent-patient
  2. https://blog.cureatr.com/importance-of-medication-compliance-for-patient-safety
  3. http://www.bhevolution.org/public/medications.page
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3919626/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068890/

Get Ready for Flu Season

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Fall is approaching which means that the 2020-2021 flu season is also. Experts recommend the flu shot now more than ever as the coronavirus pandemic could mix with flu season. This overlap could cause major issues and overwhelm hospitals. It is critical to get vaccinated, as preventing the flu saves lives and preserves healthcare resources.

Why you should get vaccinated

Influenza affects people differently. While some people only develop mild symptoms, others develop serious illnesses such as bacterial pneumonia, ear, and sinus infections. The flu can worsen chronic medical conditions like heart failure, asthma, and diabetes. This contagious disease affects the lungs which can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. People that are infected with influenza can spread the disease for up to 5-7 days. Getting vaccinated not only protects you but the people around you.

Key facts about the flu shot

  • The flu shot is recommended every year for anyone 6 months and older.
  • September and October are the best months to get the flu shot.
  • Antibodies develop in the body around two weeks after the vaccination.
  • Common side effects of the shot include low grade headache, soreness at injection site, muscle aches, nausea, and fatigue. Keep in mind that these potential side effects are nothing compared to the pain of contacting the flu.
  • The influenza virus spreads via droplets when people cough or sneeze which is why it is so important to wash your hands regularly.
  • The most common flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. Although these symptoms are similar to the common cold, the flu is more severe, develops quicker, and leads to severe complications.
  • Vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year. Characteristics of the person being vaccinated such as age and health affect its effectiveness.
  • There is a high-dose shot called Fluzone High-Dose, or FLAUD, available for people 65 and older. FLUAD has four times the antigen than a regular dose has. It works by pairing a regular vaccine with an immune stimulant increasing the response to a vaccine.

Why the flu vaccination is especially important this year

COVID-19 has caused health care facilities to be full. If people do not get a flu shot and contract the flu, they will have to seek treatment which may increase their exposure and risk of contracting the coronavirus. Furthermore, oxygen and ventilators are resources used to keep both COVID-19 and flu patients alive. If there is a big influx of flu patients this year, there is a possibility of people having to compete for resources. Protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated!

Do you have any questions regarding the flu vaccine?

Tria Health provides one-on-one confidential counseling with a pharmacist for any of your medication related questions. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your questions.

Tria Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/08/21/flu-shot-during-covid-what-know-2020-2021-season/3392376001/
  2. https://www.today.com/health/flu-season-2020-2021-what-know-when-get-flu-shot-t188740
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm