Managing multiple medications and fully understanding their impact on a variety of disease states can be challenging for a patient, especially when compounded with concerns over proper use, possible side effects, interactions with other medications, and rising health care costs.
Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is an integrated approach to improving patients’ health outcomes. From educating patients about the medications they are taking and how they are working for their disease states to generating a recommendation for medication and lifestyle changes, MTM services promote medication self-management and individualized, patient-centered care.
“MTM services improve treatment outcomes for individual patients by promoting active collaboration among patients, pharmacists, doctors and other health care providers,” said Magdi H. Awad, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Northeast Ohio Medical University and clinical pharmacist at Portage Community Health Resources. “It is much more than traditional counseling.”
MTM sessions typically involve a 30-60 minute, one-on-one meeting between a patient and pharmacist where the patient is asked to bring his or her prescription and over-the-counter medications or a detailed list for review. This review allows for an open and honest conversation about the patient’s medical history, when and why the patient is or is not taking the medications, side effects the patient is experiencing and other related concerns.
Following the session, the pharmacist produces a recommendation for improving health outcomes to be reviewed with the patient’s primary care provider. Recommendations may include the elimination of some medications, dosage changes and proposed lifestyle/behavioral changes, all of which can work to reduce health care costs for the patient and ensure all medications are taken appropriately.
Patients with chronic illnesses, taking multiple medications, experiencing discouraging side effects, incurring overwhelming costs, or expressing concerns about the long-term outcomes of their current medicinal use may benefit most from participating in MTM.
“The more medications a patient is taking, the more opportunity there is for resolving an issue,” said Dr. Awad. “It is important the patient, pharmacist and provider all partner in order to ensure medications are appropriate, effective, safe and convenient.”
Dr. Awad earned his doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Minnesota, where he first participated in MTM services through his work in a federally qualified health center as well as his residency training, which was specifically focused on ambulatory care. He has provided MTM and disease management services to patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma/COPD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis and blood clots.
His current work at Portage Community Health Resources centers around elderly patients and underserved minorities who are trying to manage numerous medications, are faced with compliance and health literacy issues, and who may be seeing multiple specialists. Many of his patients are referred to him by physicians while others hear about his services through word of mouth.
“It’s challenging working with patients with barriers; you have to spend the majority of your time creating a ‘no shame’ environment and just gathering information,” said Dr. Awad. “You have to excel at not only making recommendations but making the services work within their busy schedules.”
By: Heather Bing