DeKalb Medical, Walgreens Team Up to Improve Patient Outcomes

DeKalb Medical has teamed up with Walgreens pharmacists to help patients better understand and comply with medication therapies following treatment at the hospital, a collaborative relationship that has improved patient care and satisfaction just three months after implementation.

DeKalb Medical improved its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) top box scores pertaining to patient communications on medication from 50% to 63% over the 90-day period following the program’s launch. HCAHPS is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients’ perspectives on hospital care. HCAHPS scores have continued to trend upward beyond the initial 90-day period as operation of the comprehensive pharmacy program with Walgreens continues.

Walgreens operates a full-service outpatient pharmacy adjacent to DeKalb Medical’s Health and Wellness Store on the DeKalb Medical Main campus in Decatur. Beginning in July 2011, Walgreens pharmacy staff implemented a comprehensive patient-centered discharge medication program. Prior to hospital discharge, this service provides patients who elect to take advantage of the service with proper instruction focused on their new medication therapy, along with the convenience of prescription delivery to the patient at their bedside in the hospital. By eliminating the need to travel to a pharmacy following a hospital stay, the service contributes to the patient’s ability to comply with medication therapy. In addition, Walgreens pharmacists conduct follow-up phone calls to patients within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital to answer questions on medications, potential side effects and treatment programs.

“A patient who is informed and secure in their treatment program following a hospital stay is more likely to stay adherent to their medications and to achieve a better health outcome,” said Cathleen Wheatley, DeKalb Medical’s senior vice president and chief nurse executive. “By working with Walgreens, we’ve been able to ease the burden on DeKalb Medical patients and their families during challenging times by offering simple and easy access to medications and to health and pharmacy professionals who can address concerns and questions that can follow a hospital stay.”

The overall cost of poor medication adherence to the US health care system is estimated at $290 billion per year. In addition, studies show that for every 100 new prescriptions, only 15-20% are filled as prescribed.

“This is a great example of the role our pharmacists can play in a coordinated care program that benefits both the patient and the hospital,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “Medication therapies can be challenging for patients and caregivers. And services like bedside delivery, pharmacist follow-up with patients after discharge and ongoing access to Walgreens community pharmacists who provide education and counseling help ensure a smooth and healthy transition from the hospital to the home.”

The implementation of the programs with Walgreens was a key element of an overarching initiative by DeKalb Medical to improve patient satisfaction. DeKalb Medical was recognized for these efforts when it received a top award for innovation from VHA Georgia in September 2011.