ACO pharmacy program curbs admissions, $24M in costs

Medication management helps Hennepin County Medical Center save costs for 8,000 patients
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After a year as an accountable care organization, Hennepin County Medical Center says its pharmacy medication management program has helped cut admissions by 42 percent, emergency room visits by 37 percent and an average cost of care by $2,500 per patient, Drug Topics reported.

With a grant from the Minnesota human services department, the 454-bed hospital in Minneapolis offers medication therapy management services for about 8,000 patients, with savings totaling $24 million, according to HCMC's Director of Pharmacy Services Bruce Thompson.

HCMC categorizes patients into three groups by patient history: no hospitalization in the past year, a hospitalization within the past year and more than one hospitalization in the past year.

Those patients hospitalized multiple times receive the targeted attention of its multidisciplinary team, made up of a pharmacist, doctors, a social worker, nurse practitioners and other health professionals, according to the article.

With nearly half of all the patients on 10 or more medications, this group of high-risk patients posed an opportunity for improved care. The team reconciled medications at admission and discharge and made a follow-up visit to the pharmacist within five days of patient discharge.

"We look at patients who have the highest pharmacy spend, find out why that is, and determine how we can help reduce those costs," Thompson said.

The benefits of pharmacy communication and medication reconciliation linked to better adherence has pushed hospitals to consider in-house pharmacies. Thirty-five percent of the 5,000 hospitals in the country have at least one pharmacy aimed at patients being discharged to make sure they get their medications and stay on track.

For instance, Vermont's Grace Cottage Hospital recently expanded its Messenger Valley Pharmacy. With 60 people enrolled in its program, the pharmacy has contact with the physicians, The Commons Online reported.

"The program probably costs us about $5 per patient, but because they get prescriptions here, we can capture that cost."

For more information:
- see the article in Drug Topics
- here's the article from The Commons Online

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