Medication therapy management (MTM) can take 15 minutes to an hour, and taking a pharmacist out of the regular workflow for that period of time can wreak havoc in a busy community pharmacy. Pharmacies that have successfully integrated MTM into their services have a clear strategy for conducting the analyses and consultations—and involve their entire staff in the process.

MTM offers independent pharmacies an opportunity to provide a valuable service to patients and boost the bottom line. It can also disrupt the regular flow of work, extending time needed to fill prescriptions and leaving both patients and pharmacy staff frustrated. Establishing clear expectations and training staff are key to keeping the pharmacy running smoothly while enabling pharmacists to perform the analysis and consultations critical to successful MTM.

According to a survey released at the 2017 National Community Pharmacists Association annual meeting, 83% of community pharmacies now offer MTM, and the number is likely to continue to grow. “We’ll see independent pharmacies leading the way in offering the services and care patients need to stay adherent to their medications and remain healthy,” said Steve Lawrence, senior vice president of Cardinal Health, the survey’s sponsor.

MTM includes three primary services—targeted interventions, comprehensive medication reviews, and targeted medication reviews. Targeted interventions that assess issues in connection with a particular medication may take 5 to 15 minutes, while a comprehensive medication review that looks at all prescription, OTC therapies and supplement usage, and identifies conflicts or barriers to adherence could require more than an hour, according to a guide to leveraging MTM by McKesson.

Independent pharmacies that have successfully implemented MTM services have focused on three key areas, according to the guide. They involved their entire staff, trained the full team on MTM, and focused on effective communication with patients.

Facilitating participation by all members of the pharmacy staff increases efficiency by enabling technicians and others to undertake activities that do not require a pharmacist’s expertise. These tasks include regularly monitoring the MTM portal, identifying patients who may need and are eligible for MTM services, scheduling comprehensive reviews, assembling materials needed for the review, and documenting results. When technicians take on these activities, it frees the pharmacist to focus on the reviews and to continue handling the other clinical and business issues in the pharmacy.

Training the whole team in best practices for MTM and the benefits to patients allows staff to provide a higher level of assistance and to discuss the service with eligible patients. Continued training on the technology used increases productivity and maximizes the value of the investment. Ongoing training on medications and emerging research in pharmacotherapy enables pharmacists to add more insight to the review and better educate patients.

Even the most comprehensive review will have limited value if its findings cannot be conveyed effectively to the patient. Behavioral coaching techniques and open-ended questions improve communication with patients. Ensuring that the results are delivered in a language understood by the patients is also critical. Even when the patient and pharmacist speak the same language, verifying that the key points have been understood significantly increases patient satisfaction and the likelihood of taking appropriate action. In addition, probing to find out what motivates the patient to improve their health helps pharmacists develop a meaningful and workable plan.

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