Do You Really Need All Those Meds?
Medication Therapy Management Services Help Clarify Medicine Needs
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up every morning? For many people, their morning routine includes taking medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015-2016, 45.8% of the U.S. population used one or more prescription drugs and prescription drug use increased with age. In fact, the same researchers found that 85% of patients over the age of 60 used at least one medication.1 For some patients all those meds may not be necessary.
Polypharmacy is a major concern in the elderly population
According to a 2012 publication in JAMA, nearly 40% of U.S. adults over 65 years of age are affected by polypharmacy, defined as taking or five or more medications simultaneously.2 Unfortunately, polypharmacy leads to increased healthcare costs, lower quality of life, and significantly more adverse drug events. In an 11-year study published in 2010, the researchers found that polypharmacy was correlated with an 88% increase in adverse drug events.3
Effective Medication Therapy Management is the solution
At Bridgewell, we provide Medication Therapy Management services to very high-risk patients. They are prospectively identified by an algorithm based on the number of medications they take, number of chronic conditions they have, and annual medication costs they are projected to incur.
It is common for our patients to be taking 25 to 30 medications at a time. It can be burdensome for these patients to take so many pills. When the medications are prescribed by different providers and dispensed by different pharmacies, patients can easily become overwhelmed by their medication routine. Additionally, vitamins and supplements they also take can have side effects and drug interactions.
Medications can be lifesaving
It is important to note that medications can be beneficial for people, often improving the quality of life. They can even save patients’ lives. But patients are at risk for the dangerous consequences of polypharmacy if they are over 62 years of age, have mental health conditions, don’t see a regular primary care provider, have multiple chronic conditions, see multiple providers, or reside in a long-term care facility.
At Bridgewell Medical, we have a team of clinical pharmacists dedicated to discovering whether unnecessary medications are on our patient’s medication lists. When we find opportunities for improving our patient’s lives, we work with them and their providers to optimize their medication routine. Sometimes we take steps for deprescribing unnecessary medications.
What does “unnecessary” exactly mean? Getting to the bottom of that question takes highly-trained clinical pharmacists who spend time talking with patients and their providers.
Some questions we ask during medication reviews include:
Are there medications that could be interacting with one another?
Is there more than one medication doing the same thing?
Is there a clear reason for each prescribed medication?
Is there a lower-cost alternative to the current medications?
We also know that medications are not the only answer. Our top priority is continued health for our patients, so we also aim to help patients answer other health questions they may have, including:
Are there preventative measures I can make to be healthier in the future?
What screenings should I ask my provider about so that I can continue to live my healthiest life?
Are there lifestyle modifications I can make?
We take a holistic approach to medication management and overall health for our patients. We work with the patient, their provider, and health plan to improve health outcomes, reduce drug-related complications, and lower the overall cost of care. To learn more, visit our website at www.bridgewellmedical.com
Martin CB, Hales CM, Gu Q, Ogden CL. Prescription drug use in the United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 334. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.
Kantor, Elizabeth D., et al. “Trends in prescription drug use among adults in the United States from 1999-2012.” Jama 314.17 (2015): 1818-1830.
Bourgeois FT, Shannon MW, Valim C, et al. Adverse drug events in the outpatient setting: an 11-year national analysis. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2010;19:901–10.
Halli-Tierney AD, Scarbrough C, Carroll D. Polypharmacy: Evaluating Risks and Deprescribing. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Jul 1;100(1):32-38. PMID: 31259501.