“This is a safety net I have at my disposal that I wasn’t using”

Brandy Ward and her family

At home due to COVID-19 and a little bored, Brandy Ward decided she wouldn’t screen her calls as she usually does. Her decision led to the important discovery that she was taking the wrong medication.

Brandy found out about the issue, thanks to the thorough work of an OptumRx pharmacist.

Pharmacists from the OptumRx Medication Therapy Management program had tried to reach Ward before as part of their routine outreach. They call on high-risk patients taking multiple medications to review prescriptions and make sure all drugs are working well, helping members and not causing side effects. Often these calls are not in response to a critical issue but instead help ensure patients are taking their medications correctly and identify any care gaps that they might have.

“I was aware of that program and they have been diligent in calling me, but I never called back because I thought, between my doctors and local pharmacist, we had it all figured out,” says Ward.

But one afternoon, that changed.

“I was watching TV and playing with my daughter. We were both kind of bored when the phone rang,” she says. “I saw that it was OptumRx.”

Ward figured that since she wasn’t doing anything, she’d spend some time with the OptumRx pharmacist and go over her prescriptions. That pharmacist was Neha Patel.

Neha PatelNeha Patel, clinical pharmacist, OptumRx

As Patel started reviewing Ward’s medications, she noticed a recent addition.

“Brandy thought she was taking the drug to help her depression, which struck me as a bit odd because that particular medication isn’t typically used for that,” says Patel.

Not wanting to frighten Ward, Patel took a step back and began asking questions to understand what might have happened and how she ended up with that prescription. Through that discussion, Ward told her the medication in question was prescribed by a specialist.

Patel then figured out there was a mix-up and Ward was taking something she wasn’t prescribed.

“Honestly, at first, I thought she got it wrong because I’m a doubter,” says Ward. “I asked her to help me look it up online and she was right. I said, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ So, initially, I was doubtful, then I was shocked, then fear set in.”

Patel was there to help guide her through how to handle it.

“I suggested she reach out to her doctors and the pharmacy that filled the prescription and I offered to stay on the line in case there were any questions,” said Patel. Ward immediately called her local pharmacist, and they were able to remedy the situation and get her the appropriate medication right away.

Together Patel and Ward were also able to identify and correct a second issue — a case of overlapping medications, known as polypharmacy.

“I’m so relieved that Neha could help me the way she did. She seemed really concerned for me. I felt very cared for,” says Ward.

Ward and Patel describe how they felt about the experience in this video and Ward explains why she thinks everyone should pick up when OptumRx calls.

Read the transcript.

Patel says more people have been receptive to calls during the pandemic.

“We’re noticing that we’re able to reach more members and patients at this time,” says Patel. “They’re wanting to take charge of their health care, become informed and make changes for the better.”

“We are also able to provide emotional support when needed, and listen to their concerns, answer their questions or direct them to the right person who can,” she adds.

Asked about the service she received, Ward said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, definitely a 10. But, if I can break the scale, I’d say 100.”

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