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Staying On Track with Your Medications

April 7, 2021

The best way to control chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes is to take your prescribed medications as directed. But many Ryan Health patients have difficulty doing this.

According to Cureatr, the reasons patients may struggle with staying on track with medications can include:

  • Access to a pharmacy: Not all patients can easily get to a pharmacy to fill or refill a prescription.
  • Tracking refills: As a patient's number of prescriptions increase, it can be become increasingly difficult to keep track of when medications need to be refilled to avoid gaps in the regimen.
  • Price: A recent survey showed that nearly one-third of customers chose not to fill a prescription due to price.
  • Side Effects: If patients are worried about side effects or experience undesirable side effects, they may try to adjust the regimen to avoid or lessen the effects.

Under the Medication Adherence Outreach Project, our chronic care managers receive data from the patient’s health plan about medication compliance. For instance, pharmacies will send information on prescription refills. We’ll know if the refill requests are in line with what the health care provider prescribed, meaning that the medications are being taken as directed.

“Having accurate information from a health plan and the pharmacies lets us know patients who aren’t picking up their prescriptions in a way that aligns with taking medications every day,” says Lydia Yeager, DNP, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, AE-C, and Director of Care Management at Ryan Health. “Our chronic care managers call our patients directly to discuss barriers to taking meds.”

The reasons are diverse. Some patients are unable to get to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions, so we’ll provide medication delivery. Some patients can’t afford their medications, so we’ll work with the provider to find a less expensive option.

“We work in the background to ensure prescribed medications are covered. We look for anything that we can help them with and provide education,” Yeager says. “This is concerning to Ryan Health because we want to be sure our patients are taking their meds and addressing any health issues they have.”

Nancy Rodrigues, Chronic Care Coordinator agrees. “Some of our patients are older and might not know they have refills available,” she says. Rodriguez, who is also a nurse and certified diabetes educator, says that having access to electronic health records makes it easier to look for a patient’s health care trends.

“We handle the patient holistically,” she says. “We look at the whole patient and see what the needs are. When we call and say we’re with Ryan Health and not their insurance company, there’s a sigh of relief. Some patients have been with us for 20 or 30 years or more. There’s a level of trust with us. We get the big picture.”

The Medication Adherence Outreach Project started at Ryan Health in late 2020. Care management has always been at the forefront of Ryan Health’s care, but now there’s a more robust care management department. That helps dispel myths about medications.

“When a patient is put on a new medication, they often assume they can go off the other meds they’re taking.” Rodrigues says. “We have to explain that while they may not want to take another prescription, all their meds work together to address their health issues. We listen, which is key, but we also educate. We answer the why — why take this pill, why change meds for a chronic condition?”

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes respond to medications, which keeps people healthy despite having a chronic health condition.

The Medication Adherence Outreach Project wants to help patients understand their medications but also feel supported by Ryan Health.