Factors associated with medication-related problems in an ambulatory medicare population and the case for medication therapy management

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Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy









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BACKGROUND: Medication-related problems (MRPs) are a major healthcare burden. The rate of MRPs in those ≥65 years old is ∼50 events per 1000 person-years, and contributes to a four-fold higher hospitalization rate when compared to younger patients. Medication therapy management (MTM) can identify MRPs in high-risk patients. However, in 2015, only 12.9% of Medicare patients qualified for MTM services through their Part D plan.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the type and frequency of MRPs in community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries and which patient factors are associated with having ≥1 MRP.

METHODS: Fourteen health clinics targeting Medicare beneficiaries were held in 10 Northern/Central California cities during Fall 2017. Trained student pharmacists, supervised by licensed pharmacists, conducted comprehensive medication reviews. Sociodemographic, chronic condition, medication, and MRP data were collected via standardized surveys.

RESULTS: MTM services were provided to 910 patients, of which 633 (69.6%) had at least 1 MRP. The most common MRPs were severe drug-drug interaction [n = 297(33.4%)] and untreated condition [n = 134 (14.7%). Individuals with MRPs took significantly more prescription and over-the-counter medications. Additionally, those with MRPs were more likely to be subsidy recipients and in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan. A total of 120 (13%) individuals were found to have had an MRP severe enough to warrant prescriber follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Although only a fraction of Medicare beneficiaries qualify for MTM services through their Part D plan, many can benefit from such services. Understanding the type, frequency, and factors contributing to MRPs is imperative to identify and avoid negative sequelae. Reduction of MRPs can potentially improve patient clinical outcomes, increase quality-of-life, and decrease overall cost of care.