How hospital pharmacist communication prevents readmissions

Patients who don't take their prescribed medication cost the U.S. healthcare system anywhere from $250 billion and $300 billion a year in ER visits and inpatient hospitalization, leading some hospitals to explore medication adherence as a way to prevent costly readmissions.

Gottlieb Memorial Hospital of Loyola University Health System is increasing communication between patients and inpatient pharmacists.

Recognizing that medication mistakes can send discharged patients right back to the hospital, clinical pharmacists engage in "rounding" to educate hospitalized patients on new meds before they leave. Since mid-August, more than 330 patients have received such education at Gottlieb Memorial.

The hospital also allows patients and caregivers to speak directly with an inpatient pharmacist at any time during the hospital stay, as well as after discharge through its "Ask the Pharmacist" consultation phone line.

"We discovered many patients were confused after discharge not only about when and how to take their medications, but also about the need to continue taking those medications," Mary Clausen, assistant director of pharmacy at Gottlieb, said in a statement. "We feel continued access to a hospital pharmacist reinforces our hospital mission of patient-centered care and safety," she said.

Meanwhile, Nash General Hospital in Rocky Mount, N.C., is using a pharmacy robot to improve patient safety and efficiency. The McKesson ROBOT Rx increases medication-filling accuracy to 99.9 percent, cuts pharmacist-checking labor by 90 percent, and reduces expired medication costs by 54 percent, according to the Rocky Mount Telegram.

For more information:
- read the press release
- read the Rocky Mount Telegram article