With all the recent talk of collaborative practice, more pharmacists and physicians are finding creative ways to work together to solve patient issues.
In Harvey, Illinois, Ingalls Professional Pharmacy offers a Meds to Beds service to the patients of Ingalls Memorial Hospital. As a hospital pharmacy, Ingalls needed a convenient method for mobilizing the PioneerRx pharmacy system for speed and better communication. Julie Witvoet, Pharmacy Manager, partnered with PioneerRx to develop the first Workstation on Wheels that allowed the PioneerRx software to be moved easily from room to room. The setup includes a computer system, a scanner, and an iPad featuring the PioneerRx Delivery App.
The Ingalls Meds to Beds program celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 20th, and Julie reflects on the reasons why the program’s first year was a great success.
Ingalls Professional Pharmacy offers the Meds to Beds service to patients prior to discharge and to patients who need their home medications during their hospital stay. The Emergency Room utilizes the service at a higher rate than other areas of the hospital, and Julie points out that many patients use emergency care as their “primary care physician” since they usually don’t have one, nor do they have the insurance for one. Other areas that frequently use Meds to Beds include same-day surgery, the rehab facility, and patients who need adjusted doses of their current medications during their time at the hospital. Also, newly-diagnosed diabetes patients are immediately placed inside Ingalls’ workflow queue, and the pharmacy staff ensures each patient goes home with a blood glucose monitor and testing supplies.
A patient is considered “readmitted” if they return to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged, and hospitals are penalized for readmissions. In 2017, the Medicare rehospitalization penalties totaled around $528 million. Pharmacies can offer their services to local hospitals through a Meds to Beds program as a proactive measure to lower rehospitalizations. “The area Ingalls Memorial Hospital is located in is a low-income area, so people were leaving the hospital and not filling their prescriptions, then showing back up on our doorstep,” Julie explains. Pharmacies can decrease the number of rehospitalizations and help the hospital avoid a profit loss by solving any issues that may prevent patients from receiving the necessary medications and information.
After a year of offering Meds to Beds, Julie has witnessed all the benefits of the program. “I love it because it solves problems like insurance conflicts, the patient being unable to afford the medication, needing a prior authorization — we can deal with all of those issues before we send the patient home.” Patients already have enough on their minds once they are discharged, and transitional care makes the journey to recovery easier to manage for them. “It’s just better patient care to make sure patients have their medications before they leave,” Julie declares.
Because hospitals are dealing with readmission penalties, they will benefit greatly from a program that oversees patient therapies once they are discharged. Julie notes that, like all nurses, the RNs at Ingalls Memorial Hospital are really busy, and the Meds to Beds program keeps them informed without overwhelming them with more work.
Julie estimates the WoW, or Workstation on Wheels, that mobilizes the pharmacy saves her staff time and thousands of footsteps. “Without that mobile workstation, my technician would have to run up to the floor to get the prescription, run back to the pharmacy, wait for the prescription to be ready, then run back to the floor.” PioneerRx simplifies the process of transitional care, and Julie found a convenient solution through the Delivery App. “There was a lot we had to consider,” she explains, “but we were the first PioneerRx pharmacy to do this, and I think we have it figured out!”
According to Julie, Ingalls fills an additional 1,000 prescriptions each month, thanks to the in-hospital location. Once patients realized there were two outpatient locations that offered the same services, several chose to continue filling their prescriptions with Ingalls.
From convenience to better communication to overall healthier patients, transitional care is a service that benefits everyone — physicians, nurses, patients, and pharmacists. When all entities of the healthcare team band together, they can solve problems like readmissions and encourage consistent, improved lifestyles.