How Independent Pharmacies Can Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions

How Independent Pharmacies Can Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions by Elements magazine |

Did you know that your independent community pharmacy can play a valuable role in helping reduce hospital readmissions?

Increasingly, hospitals participating in value-based payment programs are penalized based on readmissions metrics, according to an October 2016 report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Independent pharmacies are in an ideal position to help hospitals improve their quality metrics through pharmacy-based transitions of care. As patients prepare to move from the hospital back home, pharmacists can provide medication therapy management (MTM) services to help smooth the transition for both the patients and their caregivers.

A 2015 study by the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA) found that readmission rates for patients receiving MTM from a pharmacist following discharge were two-thirds lower than for those who didn’t receive MTM.

Here are a few MTM services your pharmacy can offer to help reduce hospital readmissions and improve quality measures.

Medication reconciliation

When a patient is discharged from the hospital and sees the pharmacist, medication reconciliation is key.

By reviewing the patient’s entire medication regimen, the pharmacist can ensure the patient will be taking all the right prescriptions. And, the pharmacist can help the patient avoid any negative interactions with new medications and over-the-counter (OTC) products.

Medication reconciliation also allows pharmacists to identify any other medication-related problems a patient may have and create a plan to resolve them.

Patient education and support

Transitions of care will only be successful if the patient—and her caregiver—understand the condition and the lifestyle changes that come with it.

Pharmacists can play a key role in educating and supporting patients during this transitional period.

For example, pharmacists can provide brochures with information about the condition, counsel patients about lifestyle changes and recommend supplementary OTC products to aid in treatment.

Improved medication access

In order for a patient to receive the care and medications he needs to reduce his risk of readmission, he has to have access to a pharmacy.

This presents a great opportunity for independent community pharmacies to open locations in areas that regional chain and big box stores won’t. They can increase medication access to more people who need it, which leads to healthier patients and fewer hospital admissions.

For example, in some rural areas, an independent pharmacy may be the only pharmacy in town. And, in urban areas, independent pharmacies can provide greater medication access to patients who live in underserved communities.

Adherence programs

When patients don’t adhere to their medication regimens, their conditions can quickly worsen, landing them right back in the hospital. But, by implementing a medication adherence program, pharmacies can help patients stay on track with their medications.

Medication synchronization is the basis for most adherence programs, where multiple prescriptions are coordinated and made available for the patient to pick up on the same day. This creates an opportunity for the pharmacist to examine all of a patient’s prescriptions for possible interactions, identify potential cost-saving options and discuss any problems that may contribute to non-adherence.

Utilizing an Appointment-Based Model (ABM) adherence program is especially beneficial, as they also include a monthly visit or consultation with the pharmacist. During the visit, patients can ask questions about their medications. And, pharmacists can offer patients recommendations for OTCs, lifestyle changes or home health equipment that may aid them in treatment.

Learn how transitions of care can create a retail opportunity for your pharmacy.

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Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

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