Making the most of med education campaigns

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Approximately $177 billion annually is spent on disease complications, premature death, and preventable disease progression related to inappropriate medication use, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE). Most patients take their prescriptions somewhat independently of their physicians. As a liaison between providers and patients, pharmacists are in the perfect position to help ensure safe medication use and adherence—and medication education campaigns are a great tool in these efforts.

These campaigns “can bring to light a commonly overlooked problem that can lead to terrible health outcomes down the road,” Patrick Devereaux, PharmD, Vice President and Pharmacy Manager, FMS Pharmacy, and member, National Community Pharmacists Association, told Pharmacy Today. “Campaigns centered around something like medication adherence or blood pressure monitoring give us as practitioners a chance to identify problems in patients whom we have never met, help those patients remove barriers to getting well, and hopefully begin to make a meaningful impact on patients’ health.”

Bringing it to practice

Myriad education campaigns exist for all types of medications, but here are a few you can use in your practice:

Script Your Future, created by the National Consumers League (NCL), helps patients with conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and high blood pressure increase adherence. NCL focuses on six target markets: Baltimore; Birmingham, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Providence, RI; Raleigh, NC; and Sacramento, CA. The site offers tools such as a wallet card to track medications and a questionnaire with ideas for starting a conversation about adherence with patients. 

Up & Away and Out of Sight, created by CDC, can help you educate patients on ways to keep their medications from accidentally being taken by children. The site provides a coloring book for children, travel tip sheets, Up & Away posters, a pledge that you and patients can take and share on sites such as Facebook, and more.

Two websites that focus on the use of pain relievers are The Alliance for Rational Use of NSAIDs by the Western Pain Society and Know Your Dose from the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition. Know Your Dose has a section specifically for pharmacists. It offers a pediatric dosing chart, points to go over with patients, and free materials such as education kits, posters, and a video. The NSAID site offers a brochure about taking NSAIDs properly that you can download, as well as resources and information on overdosing and adverse effects.

Two sites that offer information on safe pharmacy practices are FDA’s BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy and APhA’s Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine.

Abundant resources

NCPIE provides numerous resources, including an annual Talk About Prescriptions month in October, an Acetaminophen Safe Use program, and a Medication Use Safety (MUST) for Seniors program.

The organization also offers “Taking Action to Prevent & Address Prescription Drug Abuse: A Resource Kit for America’s College Campuses,” which highlights prescription drug misuse on college campuses; “Maximizing Your Role as a Teen Influencer,” which gives adults information and preventive strategies on teen prescription drug abuse; and “Not Worth the Risk—Even If It’s Legal,” which provides information that parents can share with teens about prescription drug abuse. 

With so many medication education campaigns available—and some taking place only in certain months or seasons—NCPIE suggests tracking them with a counseling calendar. The organization also recommends adding value to your practice by linking to medication education campaigns on your pharmacy’s website and handing out materials at public health–related events.

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