Pharmacists help reduce readmissions among high-risk patients

Readmissions could drop as much as 20 percent if community pharmacists work with high-risk patients after discharge on counseling and medication management, according to a new study. 

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati's James L Winkle College of Pharmacy said hospitals were less likely to readmit patients who saw a pharmacist after discharge than those who didn't.

After a successful pilot study in 2013, researchers, led by Heidi Luder and Associate Professor Pamela Heaton, Ph.D., will team up with Cincinnati's Health Collaborative, the Kroger Co. and the university plan to expand the project. The study plans to partner with HealthBridge, a healthcare technology company, to build and implement technology to allow hospitals to communication patient information to pharmacists, according to the announcement.

The ongoing study hopes to pair 1,000 high-risk patients with a community pharmacist. Researchers will focus on patients with chronic conditions, such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes, as well as other conditions like pneumonia and myocardial infarction, who get discharged from certain hospitals in the University of Cincinnati Health and Mercy Health Partners systems, according to the announcement.

Pharmacists will review medications for drug interactions, side effects, non-adherence, duplications and contraindications, Luder said in the announcement.

Hospitals can reduce readmissions for patients with COPD and heart failure if they offer comprehensive pre-discharge planning with attention to seamless transition and continuity of care, patient education about medications and compliance, daily living skills, transportation and nutritional support, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

At Atlanta Medical Center, patients who received one-on-one medication and disease management discharge counseling from a pharmacist had a 50 percent lower 30-day readmission rate than patients without intervention. The Nebraska Medical Center used patient drug education and follow-up from pharmacists, nurses and nutritionists, and saw readmission fall from 28 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2011, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement