The University of Mississippi Pharmacy Health Services is developing new medication services, including more streamlined pharmacy access and in-office consultations, for enrolled students as well as for employees and their families. These resources will allow the Ole Miss community greater flexibility in receiving private consultation regarding both medications and general healthcare as well as immunizations and prescription requests.
Consultations and services will be held within the onsite pharmacy, located inside the V.B. Harrison Health Center on Rebel Drive. The pharmacy will operate similarly to national drugstore chains, refilling prescriptions directly from a doctor’s referral or transferring medications from another pharmacy.
The pharmacy will also offer transport options by delivering prescriptions to employee offices on the Oxford campus if requested. Because of safety regulations, medications will not be deliverable to student housing and residence halls.
Sandra Bentley, the pharmacy’s director, has been at the forefront of communication for the pharmacy’s new endeavors and believes the services will have a lasting impact by enabling students and faculty to better manage their health.
“Anytime you can get medications without the hassle, you bring down barriers that might have prevented you from reaching patients,” Bentley said.
Bentley also said she hopes that by using a pharmacy located on campus grounds, people on campus will be less affected by time constraints and will have greater flexibility to reach their prescriptions right when they need them.
“You see improvement in people staying on their medications, staying healthier because there’s no wait involved,” Bentley said. “It’s right here on campus, and you have what you need to get started.”
The pharmacy’s health services will accept a wide range of students’ and employees’ insurances, working with numerous national plans. Bentley said that the goal is to help cut down costs of prescriptions by providing routine consultations, which will inform patients of medications that best suit their current health and financial needs.
New clinical services, including the Tobacco Cessation and the Cold Relief and Travel Clinics, will also include pinpointed discussions about specified lifestyles.
One of the largest changes to the pharmacy’s program will be the introduction of Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) appointments. The CMM program is a series of scheduled meetings at the Student Health Center that allows a pharmacist to work closely with a patient’s physician to review his or her current chronic conditions and help develop a plan for a healthier lifestyle.
CMM includes an overview of a patient’s prescriptions to see if the medications are performing effectively. It also confirms that a medication is safe for a specific candidate and assists pharmacists in reviewing any adverse effects or negative lab results. Likewise, the consultations prevent patients from accidentally taking multiple prescriptions that may be dangerous when used together.
Anne Marie Liles, clinical director of Pharmacy Services, is an advocate of including CMM on the university grounds to better accommodate the needs of students and faculty by encouraging them to make healthier choices by offering flexible appointment options.
“One way is cooperative practice agreements, where we would have an agreement with a physician to send their patients here (to the Student Health Center),” Liles said. “I would have certain guidelines or protocol concerning what I can and can’t change in terms of their medications. It can look different for every patient, which is a benefit of having CMM.”
According to Liles, the outcomes seen nationally from providing CMM services include a significant decrease in overall medical care costs costs for campus health providers by saving people from hospitalizations and out-patient care. This is in addition to saving patients’ money by allowing opportunities to switch from a brand name to generic prescription.
There is also a proven increase in adherence to medications, when campus physicians can meet with a patient’s pharmacists more frequently to see how the patient is responding. This change could also bring an adherence to any goals the doctor and patient have set, including lifestyle modifications and similar protocols.
UM pharmacy students will potentially be allowed to observe CMM appointments during their senior rotations. Senior Suman S. Ali believes that the new program will help cut the confusion out of taking new and varying medications.
“Patients will have a lot of medications, and they come to the pharmacy to spend time educating themselves on each prescription,” Ali said. “(The pharmacists) will follow up and actually spend time with you, which differs from a lot of doctors, who will write you prescriptions but won’t sit down and talk you through your medication.”
The tentative date of CMM’s placement is summer 2018 and is based on reimbursement from state insurance companies. Appointments will be offered to both students and employees, though the level of comprehensiveness may differ.
“CMM, to me, is not about the financials. Saving money is important but a minor outcome,” Liles said. “For patients, it really improves their care. This day and age, a physician can’t see and spend enough time with all our complex patients. CMMs really allow that additional time that a patient needs to be spending on their healthcare, in terms of their medication management and education about the disease’s state. They can really improve patient outcomes.
This article was submitted to The Daily Mississippian from an advanced reporting class.