Ensuring Patients Get Medications to Improve Post-Discharge Outcomes

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Obtaining prescriptions immediately following a hospital stay can be difficult due to patients’ delicate health conditions. For people from rural areas, getting necessary medications may be particularly challenging due to the lack of easy access to pharmacies. These barriers to access may prevent some patients from getting the medications they need to improve their health and well-being.

To overcome these challenges, Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center (JFL) in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands is collaborating with its Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) in implementing a program to improve medication adherence, reduce readmissions, improve patient outcomes, and enhance the patients’ quality of life.  

HSAG—the QIN-QIO representing Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio and the U.S. Virgin Islands—provided support to JFL by connecting them to subject-matter experts who have implemented medication-adherence improvement programs in the past. Additionally, HSAG provided JFL with hospital readmissions data. This support spurred JFL to take action and implement a unique medication delivery program for its rural community.

In May 2016, the pharmacy department of JFL introduced the Med-to-Bed program—a service that delivers patients’ medications to their bedsides prior to discharge from the hospital. The program was implemented in a progressive rollout, initially focusing on congestive heart failure patients due to their high readmission rates among the Medicare population in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In June, JFL expanded the program to patients with diabetes. As of July 18, 2016, the program was made available to all patients admitted to the hospital.

“The Med-to-Bed program is convenient to the patient,” said Laura Forbes, JFL Director of Pharmacy Services. “It allows the patient to go straight home after discharge with no more worrying about how they will get their prescriptions filled.”

Patients can elect to participate while receiving care in the hospital. The physician sends a prescription to the patient’s chosen pharmacy one day prior to the patient’s discharge. The pharmacy then delivers the prescription to the patient’s bedside before he or she is released from the hospital.

“The Med-to-Bed program can also build the relationship between the patient and the pharmacist. Patients participating in the program will receive a call from the pharmacist three days after discharge to see how they are doing and answer any questions that they may have,” said Forbes.

Results

Thus far, HSAG has helped JFL establish partnerships with six local pharmacies that are now active participants in the program. To date, JFL has served 70 patients in the Med-to-Bed program, 28 of whom were Medicare beneficiaries. JFL’s long-term goal for the program is to see an increase in patient compliance with medications and a reduction in unnecessary readmissions by enabling a smoother process for patients to acquire their prescriptions.