Pharmacist-patient relationships improve health, lower costs of care, UNC-Kerr study reveals

RALEIGH, N.C. A healthy relationship with a community pharmacist can improve health outcomes for patients and save money, a new collaborative study from North Carolina-based Kerr Drug and the University of North Carolina revealed.

Those benefits stem from direct interventions in patient therapy by pharmacists, coupled with a coordinated approach to the patient’s treatment regimen by his or her pharmacist and doctor, according to Kerr.

“It’s all based on medication therapy management ... when pharmacists and physicians work together to review patient profiles and decide on treatment plans,” Kerr noted Wednesday. “Pharmacists advised patients on how to take their medications and recommended lower-cost treatment options, such as over-the-counter medications. These efforts not only improved patient’s health, they were even found to decrease prescription drug costs for the North Carolina Medicaid program,” added Kerr, which operates nearly 100 retail pharmacies in the state, as well as an array of health and clinical-care programs for employer-based health plans.

 

The study was conducted by UNC-Chapel Hill and Kerr’s pharmacy and clinical management team, and was supported by a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. Researchers reviewed the cases of 88 patients enrolled in North Carolina’s Medicaid program from 2006-2007.

 

 

The analysis demonstrated the health benefits to patients who underwent pharmacist counseling, according to Kerr. It also turned up clear evidence of health cost savings.

 

 

“The MTM services helped the North Carolina Medicaid program save on average $9,444 annually, an average cost savings of $107 per beneficiary,” noted the company.

 

 

“Medication therapy management is more than just filling a prescription; it's about helping patients completely understand their medications,” said Kerr chairman and CEO Tony Civello. “Our pharmacists provide personal health services and teach patients how to follow a medication regimen, recommend lower-cost medication alternatives and recognize potential harmful drug interactions.”