Pharmacist program targets HF, MI readmissions

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The drugstore chain Walgreens is offering to soothe the pain of hospitals trying to avoid penalties under the hospital readmissions reduction program. The company announced that it is rolling out WellTransitions, a program designed to improve patients’ medication adherence by providing pharmacist support before, during and after discharge.

Patients who do not follow their medication regimens once they leave the hospital are more likely to have poor outcomes and be readmitted. Beginning Oct. 1, hospitals with worse-than-expected rates for preventable readmission for acute MI, heart failure and pneumonia are at risk of losing up to 1 percent in Medicare reimbursement in fiscal year 2013, 2 percent in 2014 and 3 percent in 2015.

“When a patient leaves the hospital with a new medication regimen, it can be overwhelming for both the individual and a caregiver,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness, said in a release. “Readmissions can be costly for the patient as well as our healthcare system.”

WellTransitions is a coordinated-care program that allows Walgreens pharmacists to work with hospital staff on medication-related patient care, according to Walgreens. Services include:

  • Medication review – pharmacists review patients’ prescriptions at admission to the hospital and at discharge; check for potential interactions and simplification of medication regimen;
  • Bedside medication delivery – A Walgreens' pharmacy staff member delivers medication the patient will need to take after discharge to the patient’s room and offers medication education and instruction;
  • Patient counseling – pharmacists provide medication counseling to the patient and caregiver;
  • Follow-up calls – pharmacists conduct regular calls to follow up on patient progress, discuss regimen and answer any questions or concerns; and
  • 24/7 pharmacist support – pharmacy staff is available to answer patient questions 24/7 either over the phone or online.

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System in Sarasota, Fla., Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md., and Marion General Hospital in Marion, Ind., participate in the program. Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens plans to roll out the program to facilities throughout the U.S., including many of the hospitals and health systems where Walgreens operates an outpatient pharmacy.