Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) and Greystone Healthcare Management, which manages 27 skilled rehab facilities in three states, recently launched a collaborative therapy management pilot program at the Lady Lake Specialty Center in Lady Lake, Fla., aimed at reducing hospital readmission rates for patients in post-acute care settings.
Through the program, Walgreens community pharmacists deliver medication and counseling directly to patients prior to discharge from the 145-bed skilled nursing facility. Following discharge, patients will receive a follow-up call from a Walgreens Pharmacist within 72 hours to help them understand and comply with their medication therapies.
Studies have shown high percentages of rehospitalizations of patients after discharge to a skilled nursing facility, and this can stem from a lack of proper communication regarding post-acute care, including medication. Readmissions of Medicare patients to hospitals within 30 days of discharge cost the program about $17 billion annually.
“Experts suggest that care during the hospital discharge and early post-hospital period may be critical in preventing at least a portion of these rehospitalizations,” said Amy Kind, lead author of the report, “Provider Characteristics, Clinical-Work Processes and Their Relationship to Discharge Summary Quality for Sub-Acute Care Patients.”
Not complying with medication therapy results in $290 billion of unnecessary healthcare costs each year, according to the New England Healthcare Institute’s research, while patients who follow medication treatment programs are shown to have lower rehospitalization rates.
It’s “extremely important” to have the proper medications and the proper follow through upon discharge, because it helps prevent readmissions and makes it easier for patients to transition from the hospital setting to the home, said Marlin Hutchens, Market Vice President of Walgreens in Central Florida, and Scott Dyen, the Director of Transition Care Services for Walgreen in the Orlando, Fla. area.
Non-compliance with medication practices is one of the biggest reasons for readmission, and almost half of patients that leave the hospital don’t necessarily fill their prescription, said Hutchens and Dyen.
This program reduces that possibility by delivering medication and counseling along with a follow-up.
“This is the very beginning of something that will probably grow, especially as we go towards health care reform in 2014,” they said. “A lot of emphasis is put on keeping patients out of hospitals, and getting them more accustomed to being in the home setting to recover better. This [program] offers the ability to do that.”
“Discharge from a hospital or post-acute care setting can be a hectic time for patients and their families, and sometimes it’s difficult to make a trip to the pharmacy or to understand a new medication regimen,” said Scott Clark, vice president of strategy & implementation for Greystone Healthcare Management, in a statement. “Having a clinically-trained pharmacist deliver prescriptions and information directly to a patient’s bedside makes compliance easier, and an ongoing dialogue with the pharmacist helps patients and caretakers transition to a new setting.”
The results of the pilot program will determine whether or not Greystone will expand the Walgreens medication therapy management program to additional settings within its framework of skilled rehabilitation facilities.
Written by Alyssa Gerace