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Optimizing your medication with MedsCheck

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Whether it be prescription, over-the-counter medications or supplements, the majority of your employees are likely to take some form of medication. MedsCheck provides them with an excellent opportunity to connect with a pharmacist who will help them review their medication, understand what it does, and help them manage intake. Pharmacists Sarah To and Doug Ma both point out that MedsCheck, a government-led health care initiative in Ontario (and BC, AB, NS, NB under different names), is an excellent resource that all your employees have access to. MedsCheck can benefit overall employee health and wellness, which has the potential to positively impact productivity at work. 

What is a MedsCheck?

A MedsCheck is a one-on-one interview between a pharmacist and their patient to review the medications they are currently taking. During this medication review, a pharmacist can:

  • address adherence issues
  • teach proper use of medical devices, such as inhalers
  • simplify a medication regimen
  • resolve side effects or drug interactions

The benefits of getting a MedsCheck

According to Doug Ma, of the many benefits patients get from a MedsCheck, the first is the ability to optimize their medication schedule. A pharmacist can assess how medications are currently being taken in relation to one another and along with over-the-counter medications and supplements. From there, Doug says, the pharmacist will suggest a specific time of day to take each medication, so that intakes are properly separated and allow patients to get the most out of each medication. If they detect any medication interactions that are leading to negative side effects, they will suggest something new.

Another benefit is the ability of the pharmacist to simplify or reduce a patient’s medication. They will ensure medications and supplements are appropriate based on the patient’s condition, vitals, symptoms, and goals, and from there determine if some could be reduced or removed.

From there, both Sarah and Doug provide a reminder that any updates or new prescriptions can easily be filled by patients through the TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy.

Who benefits the most from MedsCheck?

  • Anyone taking 3 or more medications,
  • Anyone suffering from a chronic disease,
  • Those who have a complex medication schedule,
  • Those who have trouble understanding their medication,
  • Someone who has recently been released from the hospital and is on new meds will greatly benefit from a MedsCheck.

A MedsCheck is a one-on-one interview between a pharmacist and patient, conducted by phone or video call, that generally takes 20-30 minutes. Sarah points out that patients are welcome to contact their pharmacy, or TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy, anytime with questions about their medication, but are encouraged to book an appointment to take advantage of the scheduled one-on-one time with a pharmacist.

During the call, patients will review any prescription or over-the-counter medication, and supplements or vitamins they are currently taking. The pharmacist will go over each medication individually, reviewing any possible side effects or special administration instructions. They will also discuss aspects of the patient’s lifestyle, including diet, exercise regime, alcohol consumption, and other factors that may influence their health. From there, if necessary, they will suggest a better schedule to help them manage their medication intake. Afterwards, all the documentation is stored in the pharmacy’s confidential system and shared with the patient and their physician.

Sarah provides a great example of the benefits provided by a MedsCheck. A patient of hers was taking 13 different medications, had difficulty maintaining an intake schedule and was constantly refilling their prescription late. Following the MedsCheck, Sarah realized this stemmed not just from a complex medication regime, but a lack of understanding about what the patient was taking. One of the patient’s medications had been prescribed so long ago, Sarah identified she no longer needed to be on it. Sarah contacted her doctor to help transition her off the drug and offered to dispense her medication in a MedPack moving forward to help better organize her intake schedule by day, time, and dose.

Finally, Sarah and Doug point out that patients should perform an annual MedsCheck, however, anyone who has had a change to their medications or recently been discharged from the hospital should book a follow-up.

How a MedsCheck can benefit employers

According to Doug, healthier employees take fewer sick days and tend to have improved performance; and he believes a MedsCheck can play an important role working toward this goal. MedsCheck educates employees so they can better understand what they have been prescribed, why, and reinforce the need for medication to control their current condition to help them feel their best.

From an insurance point of view, there are also benefits to employees performing a MedsCheck. Non-adherence to medication not only affects health, it also negatively impacts health plan benefits and the health care system. According to a World Health Organization report, medication non-adherence accounts for 5% of Canadian hospital admissions, 5% of physician visits, and costs our healthcare system $4 billion annually. That’s not to mention the millions of dollars plan sponsors lose annually in benefit costs, lost earnings, avoidable medical costs, and lost productivity. 1,2

So please encourage all your employees to perform an annual MedsCheck, as it not only benefits their health and performance, it also benefits the entire organization as it allows them to get the most out of their insurance plan.

Managing medications

A MedsCheck is a great way for patients to understand exactly what they’re taking and how it benefits their overall health and leads to a bigger overall benefit: improved long-term health and workplace productivity

Finally, Sarah and Doug remind everyone that while it’s important to perform an annual MedsCheck, the TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy is always available to help with any health-related questions or concerns at any time.

Adherence To Long-Term Therapies: Evidence For Action, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2003. Accessed January 4, 2018.