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Prescription for lowering hospital re-admissions

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Medications delivered to patients prior to discharge from WellSpan York Hospital

From left, Tyrese Hart and Amy Moritz-Rexroth
Amy Moritz-Rexroth, right, of the WellSpan York Hospital Pharmacy, delivers a prescription to Tyrese Hart prior to his discharge.

According to a 2012 study, non-compliance with medications prescribed at the time of discharge is a major cause for post-discharge adverse events, which often lead to hospital re-admissions.

In an effort to make sure patients have their prescribed medications before they are discharged, WellSpan Pharmacy at WellSpan York Hospital recently implemented a program where patients can get their medications filled and delivered to them in their room before they are discharged.

“Knowing patients have the medications they need before they leave the hospital is huge,” said Derek Hinds, manager, WellSpan Pharmacy at WellSpan York Hospital.

“It greatly increases their chances of being compliant with the medications and avoiding re-admissions.”

High hospital re-admission rates are seen by many as a key contributor to rising health care costs in the United States.

To help address this problem, the Affordable Care Act initiated a program in October 2012 that reduces payments, up to one percent, to hospitals with excessive re-admission rates for heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia.

Hinds said the pharmacy is filling about 900 to 1,000 prescriptions per month for about 400 inpatients.

The pharmacy uses a pending discharge report to identify patients who may be interested in getting their prescriptions filled prior to discharge. A pharmacy staff member calls the patients and lets them know about the service.

If patients are interested, they contact a nurse, who faxes the prescription to the pharmacy. After finding out how the patient prefers to pay, the prescription is delivered directly to the patient room.

The early feedback from patients has been very positive, according to Hinds.

He said the pharmacy tries to make the process as easy as possible for the nursing staff and patients. Pharmacy staff members check for insurance pharmacy cards and work with Case Management to ensure cost-effective medications are provided.

“For a variety of reasons, some patients don’t get their prescriptions filled once they leave the hospital,” said Hinds. “It may be because they can’t afford them, they forget, or they have transportation problems. We want to remove whatever barriers we can.”

Hinds expects the program to continue to grow in popularity. He said it’s possible the program may be extended to the WellSpan York Hospital Emergency Department.

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