How Medication Therapy Management Works

Step 1. Make an appointment to sit down with the pharmacist and go over your medicines. “The pharmacist can see if your medication dosages are too low or too high and note if you have any side effects or drug interactions” Brown says. The process usually takes about 30 minutes.

Step 2. Your pharmacist will give you a written action plan. This plan will include recommendations to help you maximize the benefits of your medicines while reducing side effects and interactions. You’ll also get a comprehensive list of all the medications you take and the reasons why you take them. The pharmacist will share this list and any recommendations with your doctors.

Step 3. Plan to have a comprehensive medications review with your pharmacist at least once a year, Brown suggests. If you’re having issues with your medicines or problems sticking to your dosing schedule, you may need to see the pharmacist more often.

Medicare and some private insurers will cover the cost of medication therapy management. Your insurance company should contact you if you’re a good candidate for this service, or you can call them to ask about it.

People who have tried medication therapy management have found that it helps streamline their medication use. A 2008 study in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that patients who used this service had fewer problems with their drug therapy and were more likely to achieve their treatment goals. By eliminating unnecessary medicines, they also cut down on drug costs.

Your Role in Medication Management

Managing your medications involves your doctor and pharmacist, but it really starts with you. You need to be an empowered, active participant in the process, starting whenever you get a new prescription.

Miller says you should ask these questions every time your doctor prescribes a new medicine:

  • Why are you prescribing this?
  • What is it for?
  • How will it react with other medications I take?

Other things to ask your doctor:

  • Are you starting me on the lowest possible dose that will help my symptoms but reduce side effects?
  • How do I take this medicine? For example, NSAIDs should be taken with food to prevent stomach upset.
  • Can I drive when taking this medicine? Some narcotic drugs can cause dizziness, so your doctor may tell you not to drive right after you take them.
  • What result do you expect me to have from this medicine? “A lot of people expect to leave the office with a medication that will result in them having no pain whatsoever,” says Dr. Harvey. Understanding the doctor’s goals will give you more realistic expectations.

Maintain an updated list of every medicine you take—including over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies—and keep it with you at all times, Dr. Harvey says. Every time you see a new doctor or revisit one of your existing doctors, share the list with them.

Finally, if you determine that a drug isn’t working for you, find out how long you should keep taking it. “We don’t have any medicines that halt or reverse the process of osteoarthritis,” adds Dr. Harvey. “Ask, ‘How long am I going to give this a go before I say it’s not working and stop taking it?’”