What Patients Know About Services to Help Manage Chronic Diseases and Medications: Findings from Focus Groups on Medication Therapy Management - Tabula Rasa HealthCare

What Patients Know About Services to Help Manage Chronic Diseases and Medications: Findings from Focus Groups on Medication Therapy Management

Research Publications | 3 Minute Read

Taylor AM, Axon DR, Campbell P, Fair MK, Nelson M, Boesen K, Martin R, Warholak TL

Published: 9/1/2018


Background: Managing and treating patients with multiple chronic conditions presents challenges on many levels. Pharmacist-delivered medication therapy management (MTM) services, mandated as part of the Medicare Part D drug benefit, are designed to help patients manage their chronic conditions and medications.

Objective: To identify factors that influence patient understanding and use of MTM services and potential strategies to educate individuals about MTM.

Methods: Participants who had at least 2 chronic conditions, were taking 2 or more prescription medications, and were aged 18 years or older were recruited from community-based settings to participate in focus groups. The focus groups aimed to identify participants’ perceptions and use of MTM services, barriers and facilitators to utilization, and medication problems. Participants were asked to complete a 14-item health care questionnaire and view a brief, 3-minute video introducing the topic of MTM before the group discussion. The health care questionnaire data were analyzed in Microsoft Excel. The focus group responses were transcribed and entered into the computer program ATLAS.ti for thematic analysis. Two independent reviewers qualitatively coded the discussion question responses; a third reviewer investigated discrepancies and facilitated consensus among the reviewers.

Results: Participants (N = 27) were mostly female (70.4%), college educated (62.9%), and had Medicare insurance (81.5%). Seven themes were identified: (1) new proposed names for MTM, (2) mechanisms to gain interest in and to promote the value of MTM, (3) familiarity with MTM, (4) pharmacists’ training and expertise in MTM, (5) experience with MTM, (6) reasons for nonparticipation in MTM, and (7) preferred method to learn about MTM. Participants did not understand the term “medication therapy management” and felt the interpretation of “therapy”’ differed between health care professionals and the public. Some participants used MTM services to learn about appropriate use of their medications, while others were unsure about their eligibility, associated costs, and how to access the services. Participants had limited pharmaceutical knowledge but felt pharmacist-provided MTM services were helpful. Participants were unfamiliar with pharmacists’ skills and training. Participants’ experiences with MTM services ranged from disregarding the invitation to participate to having pharmacists identify drug-drug interactions. Reasons for nonparticipation in MTM services included being unaware of their eligibility, failing to read excessive information from insurance companies, and being uncertain of the identity of the telephone caller. Preferred methods for learning more about MTM services included the Internet, e-mail, information availability at physician’s office, and television advertisements.

Conclusions: These results suggest that the lay public remains largely unaware of MTM services and that the term “MTM” is not well understood. Clearly, tailored public health campaigns and patient engagement strategies are needed to promote MTM in chronic disease management, pharmacists as respected providers, and the importance of the prescriber-MTM pharmacist collaborative relationship in managing medications for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

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