I lived in my hometown for more than 50 years and the only pharmacists that knew my name without me saying it was the gentleman that owned the pharmacy across the street from my parent’s hardware store. I have lived in my current locale eight years and everyone in the pharmacy knows my name and my husband’s. What has changed?  


As we have gotten older, our healthcare provider believes we would benefit from certain prescription medications. I’m okay with every prescription that has been written. So why is it that I’m spending so much time at the drug store that everybody knows my name?  


It’s because every one of the prescriptions has a different refill date. Add to that the occasional partial refill that requires another trip to pick up the balance of the refill, and I find myself much too familiar with the drug store. Fortunately, the drug store is only about 3 miles from the house, and seldom do I encounter traffic slow down. Yet, I find I have changed — I now have an app on my cell phone just to keep track of the prescriptions. While I appreciate this convenience, how did I let this happen? More importantly, what can I do to correct it? 


Anyone who works in healthcare knows patient compliance with medications can sometimes be challenging. It isn’t always the patient having an issue with taking a medication — sometimes it’s about remembering to “pick-up” a refill.  


It’s a simple truth: a medication can’t work if you don’t take it. Whatever the reason why the medication isn’t being taken does not override the truth.  


So, what can be done? It begins with . . . wait for it . . . the pharmacist.  


Medication synchronization is a process of coordinating the refill of medications to minimize trips to the pharmacy. Another simple truth: people who have their medication(s) are more likely to take their medication(s). 


Some pharmacies are working to improve medication synchronization. Medication synchronization is associated with improved medication adherence and higher levels of health. Medication synchronization also provides operational efficiencies for pharmacies. 


A good candidate for medication synchronization is a patient who has a history of missing medication(s), may be elderly or mobility challenges, may be new to chronic disease management, and/or refill many recurring prescriptions monthly. Patients are contacted, introduced to the program, and an implementation schedule designed. The patient is assigned a single day of the month for medication refills and pick-up. 


From a patient perspective, it’s okay to ask the pharmacist about options to synchronize medication refills. Many pharmacies have existing medication sync programs already in place. Other pharmacies can work with you to work toward the goal of a single medication refill and pick-up date.  


Most medication sync programs include a reminder call of the chosen refill and pick-up date. A planned date for medication pick-up also supports greater interaction with the pharmacist and/or medication review time.  


The process repeats itself each month. The patient benefits from better coordinated medication pick-up and pharmacist consultation opportunities. The pharmacy benefits from a better coordinated medication sales experience. 


Medication synchronization services are typically a free service provided by the pharmacy. 


If participating in a medication synchronization program at the pharmacy, share that information with healthcare providers who write the prescriptions. 


Additionally, medication synchronization does not apply to temporary medications for acute conditions or illnesses, e.g., antibiotics. 


Pharmacies continually work to provide ambulatory minor health services and to be an active part of the healthcare system. Medication synchronization is just one way the pharmacist can assist in streamlining medication to support health and wellness.