Medication Syncing: What Is It?

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Your time is precious—so you want to try to consolidate your errand running as much as possible. This is especially important when it comes to making excess trips to the pharmacy; why should you have to go more than once per month? In an ideal world you would be able to pick up all of your medications, from blood pressure pills to your diabetes medications, in ONE trip! Unfortunately, depending on when you first filled a prescription, or when your insurance will allow you to have a refill, it may not be possible to get all of your prescriptions at the same time.

Good news though, this is now going to start becoming a reality rather than a far-fetched dream. Some states are even going as far as passing laws pertaining to medication synchronization. As of January 2014, Medicare has even stepped in and taken a positive stance on the subject by having some Medicare D plans start similar medication syncing programs.

Why sync your medications?

Syncing your medications allows you to make a stop at the pharmacy ONCE per month to pick up ALL of your medications. In addition to greater convenience, patients who participated in a med syncing program were 30% more likely to take their medication as prescribed, according to a study by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Getting all of your meds at the same time means less confusion and greater adherence to your regimen (taking your prescriptions correctly and on time), whether your goal is to control your blood pressure, manage your diabetes more effectively, or even keep up with multiple conditions.

How do I go about syncing or simplifying my medications?

Many pharmacies are now starting to offer medication syncing programs, but you’ll need to talk to your pharmacy to see if they have one in place.

What are some pharmacies are beginning to offer medication syncing programs?

Because this is a relatively new type of program, your best bet is to check with your local pharmacy to see if they offer one. However, some chains and local pharmacies currently have some information on their medication syncing programs on their websites as well:

What is the difference between syncing my medications and auto-refill programs?

Medication syncing allows for a personalized one-on-one patient consultation each month. This thorough counseling session is an important part of the program and allows the pharmacist to identify any recent hospitalizations or changes in medication therapy which may have resulted in new prescriptions or dose changes.

Auto-refill programs may automatically refill your prescriptions (at the pharmacy or via mail order) when you’re about to run out, but they don’t necessarily fill all of your prescriptions at the same time and may not come with a consultation unless you request it.

Which states have adopted laws regarding medication syncing?

Oregon and Connecticut have had bills go to legislature regarding medication syncing. Oregon Governor, John Kitzhaber, passed the Senate Bill 1579, which gives people the right to synchronize their medication refills to avoid repeat visits to the pharmacy.

Check out more information on Oregon and their recent passing of this bill here.

Check on more information on Connecticut and their new law that was effective January 1, 2014 for medication syncing here.

Why were laws required to allow medication syncing?

In some cases, insurance companies required that long-term medications be filled every 90 days, and would not cover partial fills of lower quantities. The laws passed require insurance companies to allow patients to fill the smaller quantities required to get prescriptions synced.

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