Study: Guidelines Needed to Evaluate Medication Use Among Older Patients

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<p>Medicare beneficiaries are heavy users of prescription medications. But what do we know about the quality and effectiveness of their often complex medication regimens?<br><br>That is the question Bruce Stuart, Ph.D., addresses in <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/feb/how-disease-burden-influences-medication-patterns-for-medicare-beneficiaries--implications-for-polic
">How Disease Burden Influences Medication Patterns for Medicare Beneficiaries: Implications for Policy</a>. In this Commonwealth Fund issue brief, Stuart, the executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the University of Maryland Baltimore, provides information that can be used to develop benchmarks for evaluating the quality of pharmaceutical care under the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.<br><br>The study examines how medication regimens evolve as morbidity rises, and highlights areas of potential concern regarding underuse, overuse, and inappropriate use of medication therapy for various groups within the chronically ill population. It includes all major classes of pharmaceuticals used by beneficiaries with common chronic conditions.<br><br>Neither traditional drug quality indicators nor new quality assurance mechanisms mandated by law, Stuart says, are well aligned to capture suboptimal medication use in the Medicare population. "A holistic approach to medication management is needed to ensure that Part D plans meet beneficiaries' and policymakers' expectations for high-quality care," he concludes.<br><br>The issue brief is based on <em>Medication Use by Aged and Disabled Medicare Beneficiaries Across the Spectrum of Morbidity: A Chartbook,</em> which was supported by The Commonwealth Fund and published by the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the University of Maryland Baltimore in 2007. For a copy, please visit the center's Web site at <a href="">…;