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“Pharmacists with greater role in care prevent repeat hospital visits.” 1 No ratings yet.

Pharmacists given an expanded role in patient oversight can reduce the likelihood of high-risk patients returning to the hospital, according to a new study that underscores a potential cost-saving solution for a growing physician shortage.

“This is the latest study to show that expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists could help patients and still save the health system money,” said corresponding author Jeffrey McCombs, an associate professor at USC School of Pharmacy and researcher at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. “The evidence is clear that community-based pharmacists can reduce health costs. The question is: Who will pay for expanding their role beyond dispensing medications at the counter?”

The program tested at Kern Health Systems in Bakersfield, Calif., allowed pharmacists with Synergy Pharmacy Solutions to oversee the transition of about 1,100 high-risk Medicaid patients discharged from the hospital April 2013 through March 2015.

For the study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, USC researchers found that the Synergy pharmacists’ transition of care program reduced the 30-day readmission rates for the Kern Health Systems by as much as 28 percent. It also reduced patients’ 180-day readmission rates by nearly 32 percent. The study was conducted in partnership with the Komoto Foundation, Synergy Pharmacy Solutions and Kern Health Systems.

Pharmacists for primary care

In the first 30 days of discharge, the Synergy pharmacists counseled the patients to make sure they took their medications as prescribed, followed up with post-discharge appointments, assisted the patients who needed a specialist, arranged for transportation to take them to and from their appointments. They also worked closely with each patient’s pharmacy to address any problems or questions that arose regarding their insurance benefits.

The patients identified as high-risk at Kern Health Systems had a history of high medical needs, were discharged with five or more prescriptions, and had been admitted to a hospital within the last 45 days. Most patients in the study were age 45 and older.

(Information from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/316428.php)

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