The quality of pharmacologic care provided to older adults is less than optimal. Medication therapy management (MTM) programs delivered to older adults in the ambulatory care setting may improve the quality of medication use for these individuals.
We conducted focus groups with older adults and primary care physicians to explore: (1) older adults' experiences working with a clinical pharmacist in managing medications, (2) physician perspectives on the role of clinical pharmacists in facilitating medication management, and (3) key attributes of an effective MTM program and potential barriers from both patient and provider perspectives.
Five focus groups (4 with older adults, 1 with primary care physicians) were conducted by a trained moderator using a semi-structured interview guide. Each participant completed a demographic questionnaire. Sessions were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using qualitative analysis software for theme identification.
Twenty-eight older adults and 8 physicians participated. Older adults valued the professional, trusting nature of their interactions with the pharmacist. They found the clinical pharmacist to be a useful resource, thorough, personable, and a valuable team member. Physicians believe the clinical pharmacist fills a unique role as a specialized practitioner, contributing meaningfully to patient care. Physicians emphasized the importance of effective communication, pharmacist's access to the medical record, and a mutually-trusting relationship as key attributes of a program. Potential barriers to an effective program include poor communication and lack of familiarity with the patient's history. The lack of a sustainable reimbursement model was cited as a barrier to widespread implementation of MTM.
This study provides information to assist pharmacists in designing MTM programs in the ambulatory setting. Key attributes of an effective program include one that is comprehensive, addressing all medication-related needs over time. The clinical pharmacist's ability to build trusting relationships with both patients and providers is essential.