Summertime is here! During these months, increased sunshine, warmer temperatures, and kids out of school, leads to patients traveling more and participating in numerous outdoor activities. Unfortunately, this can lead to less visits to the pharmacy and patients failing to maintain their medication adherence in the summer.
There are several ways you can help your patients stay adherent to their medications even when traveling or visiting the pharmacy less often. For instance, remind them about services you offer such as auto refill or filling their prescriptions for 90-days at a time. You can also use these months to feature other methods of communication such as; text messages, personalized call reminders, and social media posts. With these tools, you can remind patients about their prescriptions and also promote delivery options or any other message you think would be helpful.
Impact of Summer on Medication Adherence
Now let’s discuss a few key factors that can lead to non-adherence during the summer months.
- Less medical supplies. Summertime can lead to 3-day or 3-week trips. Either way, your patients, at some point, may run out of medical supplies. To ensure that this does not happen, have conversations with your patients regarding medical supplies and which ones they may need, when they alert you that they are taking a trip.
- Traveling to far places. Some patients may be traveling to far locations where their routine can change. Remind them to create a new routine while on their trip to ensure they stay adherent to their medications.
- The heat effect on the medication. Let’s imagine your patient in a place where the heat is up to 90 Degrees Fahrenheit. This can absolutely hinder the effectiveness of certain medications. In this scenario, as healthcare providers we can educate our patients to take climate changes into consideration. Explain to your patients which medications need to be stored in cool places like refrigerators vs those that can withstand the heat.
- Drug sensitivity with different foods. Something important to consider is how different foods they may be eating on vacation can affect their medications. Educating your patients on drug and food interactions before their trip will definitely save them from discomfort and potential side effects.
- Packing problems. It is easy for a patient to accidentally lose or leave medicines in a hotel room or their house. This frequently occurs if they move around or change hotels often. As pharmacists, we can advise our patients on being mindful of where their medications are and even setting reminders on travel days so they can ensure they packed them.
Ways to Improve Patient Adherence in the Summer
- Help create a routine. Encourage patients to make their medication part of their routine even while traveling. By incorporating it into their routine, they will be sure to adhere to their medication usage. Ways to do this include after brushing their teeth in the morning or before at night, with a meal, setting a daily reminder on their phone, or personalizing it to that patient by their routines. Accoring to a study by OnePoll, 80% of Americans refer to themselves as a creature of habit which would make them less likely to sway from a routine once the habit has formed.
- Specialty services including medication therapy management (MTM). A great way to dig deeper into your patients specific needs is to set up an MTM call or in-person meeting with them. This allows for you to gain a better understanding of their medication usage and provide personalized recommendations to help them remain adherent.
- Text Reminders. These texts can be reminders for the patients to take their medications or reminders for them to refill their scripts. A small reminder goes a long way.
- Automated Calls. Apart from text messages, calling patients and having personalized conversations with them before their trip (or after it) can go a long way in ensuring they have enough of their medication and remain adherent.
Summertime is a busy time for everyone, especially when people are traveling or spending more time outdoors. As healthcare providers, it’s important for us to ensure our patients stay healthy and thriving during this season.