New evidence shows they positively influence hospital care transitions.
Patients who received focused attention from pharmacists during hospital stays expressed higher satisfaction, according to research presented at the ASHP’s (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) 54th Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition, which took place December 8-12 in Las Vegas.
The research report is title “Pharmacists Transitions-of-Care Service Improves HCAHPS Scores and Decreases 30-day Hospital Readmission Rates.”
“Our Pharmacy Department was charged from our administrative senior leadership team to create innovative ways to impact patient satisfaction and hospital readmission, and subsequently we developed a pharmacist-driven service-line that would focus attention on patients and their medications and disease education,” says Katherine L. March, PharmD, BCPS, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist––Ambulatory Care, Methodist University Specialty Clinic, and assistant professor, Clinical Pharmacy, University of Tennessee. “This pilot service came to fruition without any additional hospital resources. Subsequently, our success with the program has prompted the hire of a Transitions-of-Care Pharmacy Specialist in an effort to expand these good works across our entire hospital.”
The study centered on the effect of pharmacists putting emphasis on educating patients about medications as they transitioned out of hospital care. During the study, pharmacists reconciled patients’ medication before discharge, talked with patients about the medication they were taking, and contacted them by phone after discharge to discuss their care.
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Of the 1,728 patients included in the study, 414 received the full transition-of-care education protocol, including a follow-up pharmacist phone call. Those patients showed a substantial increase of 14.7% in the overall average mean score, as measured by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, which assesses patients’ perceptions of their care after discharge.
In a post-hoc analysis, hospital 30-day readmission rates dropped 5% (from 17.3% to 12.4%) when a post-discharge phone call was made to patients as a part of the study.
“Pharmacists play a multitude of vital roles for patients during a hospital stay, including comprehensive medication management and ensuring medication safety. Now, they can feel increasingly confident about their role in helping patients when transitioning from different levels of care,” March says. “Our findings add to growing literature demonstrating that pharmacist involvement in hospital discharge improves outcomes and safety.”
As most people are aware, healthcare spending is at an all-time high, March says. “We believe this research and its findings are important to healthcare executives because it highlights a service provided by a pharmacist that can potentially lower (patients’) hospital readmission rate and also mitigate unnecessary readmissions due to drug errors at the time of discharge. In addition to decreasing readmissions, HCAHPS scores were also significantly increased. Increases in HCAHPS scores also increase reimbursement from Medicare,” she adds.
“The study also found that medication safety events were prevented by the Transitions-of-Care pharmacist prior to discharge in over 100 patients,” March says. “This, too, leads to mitigation of unnecessary readmissions due to medication complications post-discharge. Lastly, we were able to increase hospital revenue by offering a Meds-to-Beds program through collaboration with our outpatient pharmacy. This has led to creating increased health-system revenue.”