A communication gap exists between patients and their health care providers when it comes to talking about medications—even when discussing the potential benefits and risks of prescription medications. In an effort to bridge this gap, the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) has launched a “Talk Before You Take” campaign targeted to pharmacists and prescribers. The campaign is part of an FDA grant awarded to NCPIE to develop, implement, and assess a national educational program on medication risk reduction to promote safe and appropriate medication use.
NCPIE began the campaign with an online survey to determine patients’ and health professionals’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about medication risk and safety information. Following are some key findings:
The survey results revealed that pharmacists can play a prominent role in helping patients consider the potential benefits and risks of medications so they can make the best choices. Through regular, high-quality communication, pharmacists can counsel patients on how to lessen the possibility of a harmful interaction between a medication and a food, beverage, dietary supplement, or other medication; recognize and avoid adverse effects; and monitor their medications’ effects.
Making sure patients fully understand the potential benefits and risks of their medications is particularly important for new prescriptions and with patients taking multiple medications. One way to do this is through medication synchronization: provide regularly scheduled appointment-based counseling (the appointment-based model, or ABM) that includes a medication regimen risk assessment. See the APhA Foundation’s “Align My Refills” campaign for ways you can engage with patients and caregivers through medication synchronization programs. NCPIE is a lead partner in the campaign.
These tips from NCPIE can help guide your conversations with patients:
For more information on “Talk Before You Take,” see NCPIE’s website.