“Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” — C. Everett Koop, MD
Medication non-adherence -– ie, not taking essential medications or not taking them as prescribed -– can lead to serious outcomes and, as a result, readmissions to hospitals. Indeed, in this country, nearly one in five hospital readmissions is related to medication issues.
The reasons for not taking medications vary, but frequently result from either a patient’s lack of understanding about the medication or an inability to obtain the drug. Now, a new program at HUP has the potential to significantly reduce these occurrences. MyPennPharmacy delivers prescribed medications to inpatients at the time of discharge, eliminating the need to stop at the local pharmacy on the way home and ensuring that the patient not only has the correct medication but understands how to use it.
Launched in April, the program is currently being piloted on four patient units. A dedicated pharmacist works with two technicians and a billing coordinator to ensure that the correct prescriptions are delivered to the correct patient, prior to discharge.
Working with nurses, the unit-based clinical pharmacist, social workers and other providers on the unit, an MPP technician identifies patients who may be eligible to participate, based on specific criteria. The technician then explains the program to these patients. If they’re interested in participating, a special icon appears on Navicare next to the patient’s name. This notifies the MPP pharmacist as well as the staff on the unit which patients are now part of the program.
When the patient nears discharge, the unit’s pharmacist completes the final medication reconciliation. Then the MPP tech picks up the prescriptions from the unit and enters them into QS1, the pharmacy’s billing system where the prescriptions are processed and billed to the patient’s prescription drug insurance policy.
“Once the prescriptions are reviewed and filled by the MPP dedicated pharmacist, they are then delivered to the patient and the patient’s co-payment is collected at bedside,” explained Michelle Plummer, MyPennPharmacy program administrator. The unit-based pharmacist performs the final step in this process, educating the patient about each prescription and answering questions.
Timing is important. Plummer said the MPP pharmacist needs at least three hours to prepare the prescriptions in order to have them delivered to the patient in a timely fashion. “It’s very patient-centered. We will not delay a patient’s discharge,” said Donna Capozzi, PharmD, associate director of Ambulatory Services.
The idea for this program came from last year’s ‘Big Idea’ competition to improve patient satisfaction, and, based on informal feedback, the program is a success:
“I love how convenient this is. I can go straight home and sleep.
“All the convenience of my pharmacy and you bring it up to my room? How great is this.”
“Everything was explained very well, all my questions were answered”
“Thank you for helping me so I don’t have to stop at my pharmacy.”
Capozzi added that the program is also revenue-generating, capturing prescriptions currently being dispensed outside of the Health System.
“Our goal is to make this program accessible to as many patients as possible,” she said. In addition to expanding to other inpatient units, she said that MPP could also help outpatient cancer patients, bringing medications for pain or nausea during the course of the treatment.
“This program can truly have an impact on readmissions. It’s a win-win situation for both our patients and the Health System.”
Photo caption: In the MyPennPharmacy program, (l. to r.) pharmacist Jane Sensenbrenner reviews all patient medications with pharmacy technicians Fransheca Soto and Smitha Jacob. Not shown: Laura Buzby, billing coordinator.