Patient lack of pharmacy access ups odds of readmission

Patients in rural or remote communities with lack of access to a pharmacy may be more likely to end up back in the hospital, a study has found.

More than 15 percent of patients, on average, in such regions are readmitted to the hospital, according to research published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. That is compared with a readmission rate of more than 14 percent in urban areas with greater access to needed post-discharge services like pharmacies, according to the study.

Researchers from Oregon State University analyzed census data in patients over 65 who had been admitted to any of Oregon’s 58 hospitals and examined 507 pharmacies. Readmission rates ranged from just over 14 percent to nearly 17 percent, which the rate decreasing in areas with higher pharmacy density, according to the study.

"Large, urban, predominantly white communities usually have a lot of pharmacies and access," Sarah Bissonnette, lead author on this study and an OSU postdoctoral fellow, said an in announcement of the findings. "But in some lower socioeconomic areas even within cities, it's much more difficult to find an open pharmacy."

In some of the studied regions, according to the announcement, patients may have to travel 100 miles or more to find a pharmacy. One rural Oregon community had a single pharmacy that was only open about 50 hours a week.

Medication noncompliance is a struggle for many patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported, and some hospitals are opening their own on-site pharmacies to help remedy the problem. Involving pharmacists in patient care has a number of benefits.

Bissonnette and her team note the benefits of the hospital pharmacy as one way to tackle medication adherence, according to the announcement, and also point to the emergence of “telepharmacies” in rural communities as an effective solution.

- here’s the study
- read the announcement