Hospitals Using Innovative Approach to Make Transition from Hospital to Home Care Easier
The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that, on average, 20 to 30 percent of medication prescriptions are never filled, and medication is not continued as prescribed in about 50 percent of cases. Patients who are non-compliant with medications are more likely to wind up in the hospital, and skipping medications is likely to cause approximately 125,000 deaths in the United States annually. The statistics are higher is areas with low health literacy, such as in the Rio Grande Valley.
Dealing with medication non-compliance is a huge concern for healthcare facilities, not only because it is not in the best interest of the patient, but because medication issues are a primary cause of readmission to a hospital 30 days after discharge. Patients may not understand how or when to take prescriptions, some are unable to pay for medications or find specialty prescriptions, and others may experience unwanted side effects or drug interactions. To address these medication compliance issues, South Texas Health System has opened four patient-centered discharge pharmacies across the Upper Valley.
CentRx Pharmacies opened inside McAllen Medical Center and Edinburg Regional Medical Center on April 5 and began offering bedside concierge services to all inpatients this week. Additionally, CentRx Pharmacies opened on the premises of South Texas Health System’s two freestanding emergency rooms – the STHS ER at Weslaco and the STHS ER at Mission – during December 2015.
“We are focused on making the transition from hospital to home a less stressful time for the patient and caregivers. We want to remove as many barriers to recovery as possible,” said John Calvillo, Pharm.D., Director of Pharmacy at McAllen Medical Center.
At CentRx, pharmacists visit the patient in their room before discharge occurs. The pharmacists talk to the patient or the caregiver, explaining what each medication does, how they interact, and how and when to take the medication. In addition, the staff may also demonstrate how to use medication instruments such as inhalers or durable medical equipment, which the pharmacy also sells. The pharmacy staff can also find alternative medications for expensive prescriptions or work with the patient to find subsidy programs.
“In addition to being available to the public and our employees as a retail pharmacy, this discharge pharmacy offers complete concierge services at the patient’s bedside to counsel them on all prescription medication issues. We want the patient to leave the hospital with all the doctor has prescribed for them, including the knowledge on how to continue recovery at home,” Calvillo said.
Discharge pharmacies are a modern healthcare concept designed to effectively reduce healthcare costs and increase convenience for patients. No other hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley actively operate patient-centered discharge pharmacies. Calvillo said patients have responded positively to the change. Having worked previously at non hospital-based pharmacies, Calvillo said patients usually just want to get in and out of the pharmacy quickly so they can get home. They are agitated and in a hurry, because, more often than not, the patient is not feeling well. The caregivers are stressed out and tired, too. They are not in the mindset to ask appropriate questions, he said. Alternatively, with the bedside concierge service, “the patients are so thankful to be getting the info they need. Especially the patients leaving from an outpatient surgery. We take the medications to the family member as the patient is waking up, and the family can go straight home with their loved one with the proper prescriptions in hand.”
All four CentRx Pharmacies are about personalized service, he said. In addition to concierge service to patient, CentRx Pharmacies hope to capture the interest of South Texas Health System’s 2,200+ employees. Medication delivery to employees is a service offered by the new pharmacies, prescriptions can be refilled online, and text alerts are coming soon. The pharmacies sell over-the-counter medications, first aid supplies and toiletries. Prices are “very competitive,” Calvillo said, and “we can order just about anything for next day delivery.”
CentRx Pharmacy hours are based on the primary discharge period at each facility. At McAllen Medical Center and Edinburg Regional Medical Center, CentRx is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 7:30 pm and closed on weekends. Discharges are minimal on the weekends, explained Calvillo. At the freestanding emergency rooms, CentRx hours are from 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday and noon to 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday.