2014: Talk About Your Medicines—Let's Get In Sync


NCPIE created ”TAP” (now “Talk About Your Medicines”) Month in 1986 as an annual observance to call attention to the need to stimulate and improve communication of information to promote safe and appropriate medicine use between consumers and their healthcare providers. “Talk About Your Medicines” Month is also intended to focus attention annually on the value that better medicine communication can play in promoting better medicine use and better health outcomes. By design, “Talk About Your Medicines” Month messaging is “evergreen” in the sense that key messages can be used throughout the year.

This year (October 2014), we’ve made an important change:
“Talk About Prescriptions” is now called “TALK ABOUT YOUR MEDICINES”

An additional, related focus for “Talk About Your Medicines” Month 2014: Understanding Medication Risks and Benefitsand What That Means for Your Good Health.… Stay tuned right here.

Our Theme: Talk About Your Medicines—Let’s Get In Sync

This October and beyond, NCPIE is partnering with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation on the launch of Align My Refills, a comprehensive consumer education campaign informing and encouraging patients and caregivers to explore opportunities to engage with pharmacists providing ongoing medication counseling and medication synchronization (med sync) services.

On October 1, 2014 to help kick off the Align My Refills campaign, the APhA Foundation is hosting a meeting of stakeholders (including several NCPIE member organizations) whose constituents could greatly benefit from engaging in a med sync program. The stakeholder meeting will be held at the APhA Foundation Headquarters, Washington, DC.

Medication synchronization makes the pharmacy experience easier for patients who take multiple medications regularly, such as older adults or people with chronic illness, by allowing them to pick up all of their prescriptions at the pharmacy on a single day each month. Pharmacy staff call patients before their pick-up to resolve any issues or answer questions related to their refill. On the day they pick-up their medication, patients and/or their caregiver have the opportunity to schedule an appointment to meet with the pharmacist. This new patient care service called the Appointment Based Model (ABM) is designed to improve patients’ adherence to medications and build efficiencies in pharmacy operations.

When utilizing ABM, Pharmacists and pharmacy staff are able to perform a regularly scheduled review of all medications each month, which provides the opportunity to identify therapeutic and adherence issues that patients may be encountering. Research is demonstrating that this model is helping to achieve better health outcomes due to improved adherence to their medicines, particularly for patients who are experiencing multiple chronic health conditions, seeing one or more doctors and/or other healthcare professionals and are therefore taking multiple medicines to manage these health conditions. All of this helps put the focus of the patient at the center of the “healthcare team.”

The benefits of Med Sync to the patient/caregiver include

  • Convenience: All chronic medications are picked up in one trip to the pharmacy per month, eliminating the need for multiple refill calls to the pharmacy.
  • Improved medication management: Opportunity to develop a closer relationship with their pharmacist during their monthly pick-up. This leads to better understanding of their how medication therapy works and helps them avoid side effects.
  • Peace of Mind: Taking medications on time because there will be fewer missed doses since the pharmacy is responsible for coordinating when a prescription needs to be refilled.

Med Sync, in conjunction with pharmacist consultation, also aligns precisely with several of the Priorities for Action emanating from NCPIE’s Adherence Action Agenda (A3) Project report, Accelerating Progress in Prescription Medicine Adherence: The Adherence Action Agenda.

Supporting Rationales

  • Med Sync, in conjunction with pharmacist consultation, aligns precisely with several of the Priorities for Action emanating from NCPIE’s Adherence Action Agenda (A3) Project report, Accelerating Progress in Prescription Medicine Adherence: The Adherence Action Agenda (www.bemedicinesmart.org)
  • Lack of prescription medicine adherence can be considered America’s “other drug problem,” leading to unnecessary disease progression, disease complications, reduced functional abilities, a lower quality of life, and even possibly premature death.
  • Chronic diseases and conditions are the leading causes of death, disability and rising healthcare costs in America, with 145 million Americans—that’s almost half of the population —living with at least one chronic condition. And one out of four Americans—75 million people— experience five or more multiple chronic conditions (MCC) including ones like those mentioned above.
  • On average, patients with multiple chronic conditions see 14 different physicians and make 37 doctor visits per year, equating to three or more interventions per month. Many chronic and multiple chronic disease sufferers are likely taking multiple medications, and juggling different dosing; refill schedules can also be confusing and a real challenge.
  • NCPIE’s A3 Project development process led to a consensus that confronting the combined threat of poor prescription medicine adherence and higher rates of multiple chronic conditions requires priority attention and action—before the predicted increase of multiple chronic conditions overwhelms the health care system.

    Above from: “Accelerating Progress in Prescription Medicine Adherence: The Adherence Action Agenda,”  NCPIE; Oct. 2013

What does Let’s Get In Sync”mean to consumers, patients, caregivers, and their healthcare providers?

  • NCPIE has always espoused the “Medicine Education Team”—and the patient is at the center of the team. Teamwork requires ongoing, consistent communication, making sure that everyone is informed of any changes in the game plan, and passing that information to every team member. In much the same way, high quality medicine communication requires such teamwork – to make sure that every time a prescription medication is being considered as part of treatment recommendation or an over-the-counter medicine, dietary supplement or herbal remedy is selected as part of self-care - all members of the Medicine Education Team are informed and, as needed, doing their part to better ensure safe and appropriate medicine use.

What’s New for “Talk About Your Medicines” Month 2014

This October, NCPIE is partnering with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation on the launch of a comprehensive consumer education campaign Align My Refills encouraging patients and caregivers to explore opportunities to engage with pharmacists providing the Appointment Based Model (ABM). The key objective is to raise consumer awareness of the (ABM) as a mechanism to manage chronic disease/medication therapies and to draw visitors to APhA’s pharmacy locator on the Align My Refills website where they will find pharmacies in their neighborhood that provide these comprehensive services.

Patients with multiple chronic conditions take more prescription and OTC medicines than any other group, are seen by different prescribers, and often grapple with taking complex combinations of different medicines correctly. The following documents the extent of this challenge:

  • According to CMS estimates, the average Medicare patient diagnosed with one chronic disease sees up to four different doctors while patients with five or more concurrent diseases see an average of 14 different physicians.
  • As a result, the concurrent use of multiple medications to manage coexisting chronic conditions (polypharmacy) is a common occurrence. According to CDC data, 76% of Americans aged 60 and over use two or more prescription drugs and 37% take five or more.10 Other data find that 42% of patients aged 65 and older took five or more prescription drugs in 2012 with the average number of prescription medicines increasing from five to seven at age 85.

    There is also a direct link between the number of medications taken by a patient and the risk of adverse drug reactions. Studies document a rise in the incidence of drug reactions from 6% in patients taking two medications a day to as high as 50% in patients taking five drugs a day.

Primary Target (older adults and their caregivers/HCP team members

  • The major burden of multiple chromic conditions is borne by Americans aged 65 and over, where the prevalence and costs of have far-reaching implications for the health care system.
  • Almost two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries with six or more chronic conditions required hospitalization compared to only 4% of beneficiaries with no or one chronic condition.

These individuals are also at high risk for medication-related problems resulting from the many drugs and complex regimens prescribed to manage their multiple diseases. As a consequence, poor adherence is a critical concern because of the increased potential for inappropriate drug use, under-use of effective treatments, medication errors, drug-drug and drug-disease interactions and adverse drug reactions.


Getting In Sync with Your Healthcare Team by:

  1. What is the name of the medicine and what is it for? Is this the brand name or the generic name?
  2. Is a generic version of this medicine available?
  3. How and when do I take it—and for how long?
  4. What foods, drinks, other medicines, dietary supplements, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine? 
  5. When should I expect the medicine to begin to work, and how will I know if it is working? Are there any tests required with this medicine (for example, to check liver or kidney function)?
  6. Are there any side effects, what are they, and what do I do if they occur?
  7. Will this medicine work safely with the other prescription and nonprescription medicines I am taking? Will it work safely with any dietary / herbal supplements I am taking?
  8. Do I need to get a refill? When?
  9. How should I store this medicine?
  10. Is there any written information available about the medicine? (Is it available in large print or a language other than English?)

And remember, when medicines are prescribed, tell your health professionals:


“Talk About Your Medicines” Month Archive