By Sergio Valencia
The return of spring means outdoor activities, flowers in bloom and the anticipation of summer — but it means the return of seasonal allergies, too. According to the CDC, more than 60 million Americans feel the effects of allergies every year. But statistics don’t tell the story of people who can’t take a deep breath of fresh air, play outside or taste their favorite seasonal dishes. Allergic congestion alters a person’s quality of life, causing fatigue, physical and social functional limitations, and even pain, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Seasonal interventions are an effective tool to control allergies and side effects that stem from them, and pharmacists can play an integral role in providing seasonal allergy care — helping people live their best lives as they enjoy the warmer weather.
How population health programs can help allergy sufferers
In the spring and summer, millions of people experience bothersome allergy symptoms that interfere with their daily life, whether they’re going to a cookout with friends or just walking from their house to their car.
According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies and asthma often go hand in hand. Seasonal triggers that cause sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose often exacerbate asthma symptoms like shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. Because asthma is a chronic condition, consistent adherence to a treatment regimen is imperative for managing these and other symptoms.
Through Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services, pharmacists can help their patients overcome barriers to adherence and address gaps in therapy. MTM services can also be used to educate patients on their disease state, avoid adverse medication reactions caused by taking the wrong medication or interactions between medications, offer health screenings and tests, and counsel patients on preventative measure.
Pharmacists can successfully use these and other services to help address the most challenging barriers faced by patients impacted by seasonal allergies.
Removing adherence barriers in chronic conditions
Adherence to prescribed medications is a well-documented challenge among pharmacists and the issue is particularly difficult when treating asthma patients. Adherence rates for asthma treatments are among the lowest of all medication groups, per the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
According to the AMA Center for Health Equity, a variety of factors can cause a patient to become non-adherent, such as fear of side effects, worry about becoming dependent on medication, a lack of physical symptoms, misunderstanding of correct use and more.
Outcomes™, a Cardinal Health company, connects pharmaceutical companies and payers by deploying intervention opportunities to its robust network of pharmacists who can work with their patients to overcome the adherence barriers they face. Because they frequently engage with patients, and are readily available to answer questions and alleviate their concerns, pharmacists can help drive better health outcomes for allergy and asthma patients through sustained interventions.
Outcomes™ helps break down medication adherence barriers in chronic seasonal diseases through a variety of engagement tactics.
According to JAMA Internal Medicine, reminders are vital for adherence. Using patient engagement tools such as texting, etc., pharmacists in the Outcomes™ network send out personalized messages to remind patients to pick up their inhalers or use them when seasonal conditions change.
Combats the chronic nature of asthma
With pharmacists overseeing their medication, patients can breathe easy knowing that they’re being given personalized care to tackle their chronic conditions. Results are not immediate when treating asthma, so it requires vigilance and consistency.
Manage the long-term impact
If patients know their inhaler is safe, they will feel more comfortable and compelled to use it. Our connected platform helps to dispel concerns about potential side effects.
Integrates interventions with daily life
During the busy summer months, Fourth of July celebrations, vacations and other changes to a patient’s daily routine can impact adherence. By educating patients on how interventions can allow them to get more enjoyment out of their hobbies, perform physical activities and sleep through the night, pharmacists can help patients stay on track through personalized care and engagement.
Instructs inhaler technique
According to Asthma + Lung UK, proper inhaler use is critical for preventative and acute symptom relief in asthma. Outcomes™ deploys educational materials such as step-by-step visual instructions to help can close health literacy gaps for patients.
Allergy interventions and the future of healthcare
Patients know and trust their pharmacists, making them more likely to follow their instructions.
Outcomes™ empowers pharmacists as medical drivers of change, and in turn, they empower patients by dispelling myths and sharing information about the effectiveness of allergy treatments.
By partnering with Outcomes™, payers can take a more active role in the medication use of patients to help reduce additional medical spend. As a result, they overcome the multitude of barriers to adherence. When patients are on the right medications, using them appropriately reduces gaps in care and yields better outcomes.
Personalized care is the future of healthcare. Learn more more about how Outcomes™ can help your health plan better manage chronic conditions.