Why pharmacists are key to better outcomes, lower costs

Hospitals looking to improve outcomes and reduce costs should incorporate pharmacists into their care teams, Hospital & Health Networks Daily reported. That's because the expanding role of the clinical pharmacist can help hospitals achieve higher performance scores, avoid readmissions and better manage indigent care.

When it comes to caring for uninsured populations, pharmacists can offer indigent medication management that plays a role in preventing avoidable emergency room visits, the article noted. And next year, clinical process of care and patient experience--both of which have pharmaceutical implications--will make up 45 percent and 30 percent of hospitals' performance scores.

Moreover, H&HN Daily noted medication mishaps are a major driver of preventable readmissions. The pharmacy department can help hospitals ensure patients get their prescriptions filled, ease patients' confusion about what medicines to take and when, as well as prevent adverse drug events.

Take, for instance, pharmacist-provider collaboration on discharge medications at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, which eliminated discharge errors and reduced 30-day readmission rates by 40 percent, according to the article.

Similarly, with a coordinated hospital discharge system, pharmacists can help reduce readmissions for older patients who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure by offering medication reconciliation and education, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

The H&HN Daily article stresses the importance of fostering collaboration between pharmacists and members of the care team. With that approach Lancaster (Pa.) General Health, a 623-licensed bed, nonprofit system, had its pharmacy department work with clinicians on standardization and utilization efforts. Lancaster General pharmacists, cardiologists, emergency medicine providers and hospitalist physicians engaged in an education campaign about the cost impact of available alternative therapies and saved the hospital about $130,000 a year, according to the guest commentary by Jill Rebuck, PharmD, director of Pharmacy Services at Lancaster General.

To learn more:
- read the H&HN Daily article