In April 2011, The Department of Health and Human Services created a Partnership for Patients Program aimed at helping patients heal without incurring avoidable problems during a transition of care — the ultimate goal being to reduce hospital readmissions by 20 percent by the end of 2013. The Affordable Care Act supported the Program through its provisions aimed at reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions by the same amount. While progress has been made, healthcare systems, retail clinics and pharmacists have the ability to collaborate to affect even greater results.
Since 2012, hospital reimbursements for Medicare beneficiaries have been cut when patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge. According to data released in December 2013, there have been marked results. In the first eight months of 2013, the readmission rate for Medicare patients fell below 18 percent.
By simply sharing medical records, pharmacists and retail clinics can help reduce readmissions that typically result from vague discharge instructions, lack of coordinated information between hospital and pharmacy as well as unclear understanding of follow-up care and check-ups. Education and appropriate instructions on medicines are more important than ever as hospitals attempt to drive down readmissions and make certain that patients receive the best care possible.
As discussed in the March 2010 American Journal of Pharmacy Education, one of the greatest issues with patient transition from the hospital to home is the susceptibility to adverse medication events (ADEs). Almost two-thirds of post-discharge ADEs result from misuse of medication — many that are life-threatening and result in hospital readmissions. As the most influential healthcare 'voice' in getting patients to take medicine as prescribed, pharmacists are in a position to become involved with the transitional care process through educating patients and families, and through medication reconciliation and adherence monitoring. With ties to healthcare systems and retail clinics, pharmacist can help instruct patients on all phases of care beyond just filling a prescription and, through retail clinics, can help patients receive convenient and less-costly follow-up care and monitoring. This further shows that consumer/patient experience should be one and the same.
Will hospital readmissions continue to decline or will it level off after the initial push? Are pharmacists ready to take on a more significant role in transitional care? I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please join the discussion by leaving your comments below.