Hospitals in the U.S. are continually looking at ways to both reduce costs and improve patient recovery engagement and after-care. Transition-of-care pharmacy services has become a successful strategy to improve patient engagement and outpatient medication adherence in hopes of reducing hospital readmissions, as well as improving hospital systems’ bottom lines.
Coined “Meds-to-Beds”, these programs provide patients with one-on-one pharmacy support at their bedside following acute care to discuss medications, possible side effects and their costs, particularly among high-risk patients with chronic conditions that require multiple prescriptions. While there have been dozens of medical journal reports and other studies published declaring Meds-to-Beds as proven to improve patient medication adherence and their satisfaction of care, various hospitals have piloted and released the results of these programs beyond patient statistics.
At the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC), its Meds-to-Beds program led to a “gross margin per patient that was three times as high as that of the prior meds to beds program.” The system, which was developed in collaboration with AmerisourceBergen, was implemented four months prior to these results. It worked by automatically identifying at-risk patients, enabling on-site pharmacy technicians to efficiently engage those individuals one-on-one before discharge to improve medication adherence. UTMC also reported that the program led to a 95% enrollment among previous pharmacy customers, with an additional 100 prescriptions filled each month, including an increase in high-value medications.
Other hospitals that have implemented these programs are Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Swedish American Hospital and Tampa General Hospital; all of which have reported increases in revenue. According to a MedCityNews article, one system with 900 locations doubled its pharmacy revenue over four years after implementing on-site discharge prescriptions at just two of its locations. The organization plans to further expand the program to additional campuses. Separately, an acute-care hospital with 17,000 admissions per year increased its outpatient pharmacy revenue by 32% over three years.
In the case of Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Chip Bruce, Assistant Director of Pharmacy Outpatient Services, said when the system first approached a Meds-to-Beds program at its Kansas City, Mo. hospital, they didn’t need to add new staff in order to implement it. However, some training for the staff, primarily nurses on the floor, was required. The hospital partnered with ScriptPro – a pharmacy management solutions provider – to break the pharmacy up into two independently-run workflows through its software.
A transition-of-care clinical pharmacist at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif., Tamar Lawful, said the center’s Meds-to-Beds pilot projected yearly cost savings of approximately $780,000 based on 124 patients involved. The readmission rates decreased by 29%, versus an increase of 12% for comparable patients.
Spending on specialty drugs nearly doubled between 2010 and 2015, and experts say it will account for up to 50% of all U.S. medication spending within the next three years. With that, it can be said that more Meds-to-Beds programing and similar transition-of-care pharmacy services at American hospital systems will surface.
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This article was originally published on ShiftCentral, now part of LAC Group.