The National Consumers League (NCL) and its partners announced the winners of the seventh annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a competition designed to engage health profession students and faculty across the nation by encouraging teams to develop creative ideas, events, and initiatives to raise public awareness about the importance of medication adherence. This year’s winners included the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Pharmacy.
To earn National Finalist designation, LECOM pharmacy students in Erie, Pa. and Bradenton, Fla. created dozens of community awareness events to demonstrate the importance of taking medications as prescribed by physicians and recommended by pharmacists. Throughout the months of January, February, and March, the pharmacists, physicians, students and faculty collaborated with a multitude of other healthcare professionals. The message was simple: to promote the importance of medication adherence in the communities of Erie, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla. Students contributed a total of 1,142 volunteer hours through 35 service events, which, in conjunction with social media efforts, reached approximately 37,000 people.
The School of Pharmacy students also earned a Focused Award for Health Disparity/Under-Represented Community Outreach. The Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA) have also designated both Erie County and Manatee County as Medically Underserved, and a Health Professional Shortage Area for Primary Care Providers.
More than 35% of our population falls below 200% of the poverty level. These combined factors have resulted in public health crises for our counties, characterized by inadequate access to care for the medically vulnerable and overutilization of ambulances and emergency rooms. The Script Your Future Competition allowed pharmacy, medical, and dental students from LECOM to provide a dramatic impact on underserved populations, and a large majority of events this year were focused in improving adherence and disease education in minorities, children, the elderly, and homeless populations. Pharmacy students worked with LECOM medical and dental students to reach these groups.
Several projects in Bradenton targeted the underserved populations in our communities. These events included the “Give Kids a Smile,” “Project Rainbow,” multiple “Turning Points Clinic Health Fairs,” events at the “Red Barn Flea Market” and various “Mobile Home Events.” In addition to pharmacists, physicians, dentists, and students from each of these professions, several events included nurses who were recruited specifically to broaden the interprofessional impact. Students and faculty volunteered more than 240 hours to care for more than 600 children, elderly, minorities, and other underserved patients within the Manatee County community.
Research shows that nearly three out of four Americans do not take their medications as directed. This may lead to devastating results, particularly for people with chronic conditions. National health advocacy leaders have recognized poor medication adherence, the outcome of which leads to more than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations and at least 125,000 U.S. deaths each year, as a public health priority. Improved medication adherence leads to better health outcomes and reduced total healthcare costs.
The 2018 Medication Adherence Team Challenge is part of the national Script Your Future public awareness campaign coordinated by NCL with support from its partners and the Challenge sponsors—the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).