Care Transformation Center Blog

The care transition opportunity you're missing

by Gina Lohr and Colleen Keenan

Did you know that nearly a quarter of patients fail to fill their prescriptions post-discharge? Medication non-adherence has serious consequences for the overall health care system, from poor health outcomes to drug waste and avoidable health care costs. In the United States, the aggregate cost of non-adherence-related hospital admissions totals approximately $100 billion per year.

By implementing a med-to-bed program, hospitals ensure that patients have their medications before leaving the hospital. This eliminates common barriers to filling discharge prescriptions, such as lack of transportation or long wait times at the pharmacy. As a result, med-to-bed programs not only improve medication adherence, they can also reduce readmissions, increase patient satisfaction scores, and bring in prescription revenue for the system.

Here are three tactics to keep in mind to ensure your med-to-bed program benefits both patients and the bottom line.

1. Position the program to grow revenues

Though revenues are not the only measure of med-to-bed program success, they are often an important indicator. Low revenues indicate that the program is not reaching many patients or the right patients, and may ultimately result in discontinuation of the service. Conversely, strong revenues can open doors for program expansion.

We recommend that programs start their med-to-bed program with a revenue-minded pilot. A deliberate pilot strategy enables a med-to-bed program to more easily refine workflows, evaluate resource needs, garner clinical staff support, and demonstrate financial viability. As the program gains credibility, it can expand to additional strategic units.

Ideal pilot units typically have a small, well-defined patient population with significant patient medication needs. They should also have receptive clinical staff and an established unit-based clinical pharmacist to ease program implementation.

Other factors that make a unit or population well-suited for a med-to-bed pilot include:

  • Units with predictable prescriptions and processes;
  • High-revenue units;
  • High-profit drugs;
  • High-risk patient populations; and
  • Populations with unique medication needs.

2. Communicate value to patients

It's no secret that med-to-bed program success hinges on patient participation. Unfortunately, securing engagement can be difficult, especially when patients have an existing relationship with their community pharmacy or think the program will delay their discharge.

To ensure that patients fully understand the program's benefits and maximize enrollment, the hospital must actively promote the program's value. This process can start even before patients enter the hospital, through pre-surgery phone calls or education classes. Hospitals can also include med-to-med program marketing materials in admission packets.

3. Enhance process efficiency

A disorganized, inefficient med-to-bed process can lead to low prescription capture rates, outpatient pharmacy workflow challenges, and delays in patient discharge. These challenges often stem from inconsistent or poorly coordinated staff messaging.

At Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, various staff members enroll patients in the med-to-bed program at established touchpoints across the hospital stay. Pharmacists or pharmacy students first introduce and offer to enroll patients in the program while collecting medication histories at the time of admission. Nurses then re-introduce the program and offer to enroll patients during daily rounds. Finally, nurses or unit-based pharmacists offer the program a final time when completing their discharge steps.

By ensuring that each staff member knows their responsibility at each touchpoint, Froedtert ensures maximum program efficiency and participation.

 

How to ease the burden of prior authorization

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8 steps for deploying clinical pharmacists in ambulatory care

As the number of medications rises, so does the opportunity for medication errors, such as incorrect dosages, drug interactions, and serious side effects. By some estimates, the U.S. spends as much money correcting these medications problems as we do on the drugs themselves.

Clinical pharmacists are uniquely skilled at identifying and correcting medication issues. In response, many health systems are deploying pharmacists in ambulatory care settings.

Check out our infographic to learn eight steps for how to deploy clinical pharmacists in outpatient clinics.

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