MTM: Making the Most of your Interactions with Patients
As of 2022, more than 7 million patients in the United States were impacted by medication errors each year. Medication errors range from nonadherence and incorrect administration technique to dispensing errors and incorrect prescribing by physicians. In 2006, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented Medicare Part D. As part of Part D, pharmacies that wish to be plan sponsors are required to offer a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) which provides additional reimbursements for pharmacy services. MTM encompasses many elements including medication therapy reviews, action plans for patients to help patient better control their care, clinical interventions, and physician referrals.
MTM is an outlet for pharmacists to become more involved in patient care aside from dispensing. MTM is a way for community pharmacists to dive deeper into the patient’s care rather than only reading a set of labs. They allow us to assess the patient’s understanding of what their medications are treating and how to use them properly. For many patients with chronic conditions, they may only see their doctor every few months or even annually in some instances, so it is important that they have a trusting relationship with their community pharmacist. As community pharmacists, we are the most accessible point of contact since no appointment is usually needed to walk into our pharmacies and speak to a pharmacist.
Here at Waterfront Family Pharmacy, we strive to make our interactions with patients more than a potential insurance reimbursement. We utilize MTM to form a better patient/pharmacist relationship. These interactions have been very beneficial for us to identify different barriers our patients may experience such as cost and ability to pick up their prescriptions. Many patients during these encounters have expressed their interest in our Medication Synchronization program where we take on the behind the scenes work of obtaining refills, consulting the physician, and managing medications. For others, we have offered pill packing to take the stress away from remembering when to take their medications.
In addition to adding more convenience to taking their medications, Waterfront Family Pharmacy takes the extra step through MTM to get to know our patients personally. An impactful interaction I had with a patient through a CMR was managing a patient’s GERD medication. The patient was very happy with how his medication was managing his symptoms and still allowed him to eat his favorite Texas salsa. He mentioned that he was from Texas, so the being able to eat his favorite salsa makes him feel at home. Because of this interaction, the patient now feels more comfortable talking to the pharmacy staff about his needs and resulted in a stronger trust-based patient-pharmacist relationship.
MTM encounters are more than just medication reviews and another form of reimbursement. We as pharmacists should strive to have a deeper connection with our patients and show them that we truly care about their health and well-being. We never know the impact our interactions are going to have on our patients. Whether it is talking to someone about their medication concerns or giving them ways to eat their favorite foods in healthier way, it is always important to take that extra step to provide the best care to our patients.
Written on behalf of CPESN West Virginia by West Virginia University School of Pharmacy student Gianna Antinone, PharmD Candidate