Enhancing Patient Care With Medication Safety, Convenience Through Delivery Services

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The pharmacy director of Baptist Health South Florida details the features and successes of medication delivery services they provide.

In an interview, Pharmacy Times discussed with Gordon Garland, RPH, CPH, pharmacy director of Baptist Health South Florida about the services that Baptist Health provides, including Meds2Beds programs as well as delivery and curbside pick-up options for patients. Garland also discusses a few of the other initiatives in place, such as vaccine programs and medication delivery services that can give patients their medications whether they are at home, the office, or the hospital.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Comprehensive Pharmacy Services: Garland notes that Baptist Health South Florida's Meds2Beds program, alongside programs that deliver medications to patients’ homes, distinguishes itself through its comprehensive approach to medication management and delivery. The program ensures patients receive their medications seamlessly across all Baptist Health locations, with an emphasis on medication safety, efficiency, and convenience.
  2. Patient-Centric Approach: The pharmacy's emphasis on convenience and accessibility significantly enhances patient satisfaction and adherence. By offering free delivery, curbside pickup, and various delivery options, the patients’ comfort and ease of access are prioritized, leading to positive patient responses and improved medication adherence.
  3. Pharmacist-Patient Collaboration: Pharmacists play a pivotal role within the programs, providing not only medication dispensing but also comprehensive consultations and guidance on medication usage, adherence, and potential adverse effects. This personalized approach fosters strong pharmacist-patient relationships, contributing to improved patient outcomes and overall healthcare experiences.

Pharmacy Times: What is it about the Meds2Beds program that separates itself from similar programs? Does it vary across Baptist Health Locations?

Gordon Garland: Well, first off, what separates us from the rest is our teams and our people. Our pharmacists and technicians are above the line on every aspect of what we do. The Meds2Beds program provides safety, convenience, and efficiency to our patients and families during our business hours in all locations system wide. So, what we do in 1 [location], we do in all [locations]. Our team members are committed to high service level and providing the Baptist patient experience as they hit home for recovery recuperation, and maintenance.

We also offer a product called Meds2Home for our patients [who are] discharged from hospitals that we don't have a pharmacy on site. Most of those deliveries are free, and additionally, we can deliver refills and maintenance medications to home, office, or other convenient locations.

Pharmacy Times: What are the benefits of delivery and curbside services? How often do patients use this service, and what is their overall response?

Garland: So, the biggest benefit is the effortless, seamless ease of access [patients have] to their medications. And that's not only for discharge meds, as I mentioned earlier, we have a Meds2Home program, so if [Baptist Health] becomes your home pharmacy, we have an automated system that will set up your refills in a timely manner and just direct them right to your home [without] lifting, and not even having to reach out to make a phone call.

As far as the other benefits, we have a whole range of things that we do along the way of Meds2Home, Meds2Beds, Meds2Office, and it's a very big broad service line we provide. We're full-service pharmacies just like out in the community, but we believe that our service level is much higher, and therefore, patients that never experienced our service on until discharge Meds2Beds, now use us as their maintenance pharmacy. The Meds2Beds program is utilized upon discharge for the most part, from all units and patients rave about how great the service is [because] we save time and energy for all and help avoid the challenges out in the community.

And they’re varied, but [some of the] complaints we hear, or challenges people experience are prescription orders not received once they get there, extreme wait times, pain control meds not available, and often requiring multiple visits to multiple pharmacies to get legitimate pain relief. We mute all that by taking care of these folks in our Meds2Beds program. As I mentioned earlier, if and when there are refills, they can also be delivered upon request or in an automated fashion with our brand-new, high-tech pharmacy management system that we just went live with these past few months.

Pharmacy Times: What is the pharmacist’s role within the Meds2Beds program, and how does the program influence the relationship between pharmacists and patients?

Garland: Well, in addition to putting meds in hand for compliance and patient convenience, our pharmacists are highly-trained and have expertise in guiding safe and effective medication use, yielding improved quality of care, and healthier outcomes. Once the patients are engaged with us, our pharmacists and technicians provide old school care with easy access. We provide consultations which include guidance on proper medication usage, scheduling, frequency, dietary concerns, and so on, for better adherence. We also talk to potential [adverse effects] and how to manage and avoid them, drug and food interactions, adverse drug reactions, storage and organizations, and we also have a wellness program where we provide a very high level, living healthy with vitamin supplements, diet and exercise. We also offer nutrigenomics and pharmacogenetics testing with specialized consultations.

Pharmacy Times: How often does the pharmacist collaborate with physicians, insurance providers, or other health care professionals?

Garland: Well, our pharmacists meet with colleagues in various forums. We attend staff meetings, in-services are provided…team huddles, new physician orientation, we work with our colleagues and community events, and of course, many virtual opportunities every day. We are contracted with all the local insurance providers and have great options for our uninsured patients as well. We have a Baptist Health discount card which brings up to 60% to 70%—sometimes up to 80%—discount off the retail cash price. We also have a $10 medication list for patients that need maintenance medicine [who] don't have any coverages. We will provide a 30-day supply of that list those listed meds for a $10 fee with no [additional] fees, no sign on, anything like that. It's open to the public as well as our patients within the building.

Pharmacy Times: Are there any differences when working with new patients versus returning patients, or when working with professionals inside versus outside the organization?

Garland: We have become the home pharmacy for many patients who only experienced our service level from the discharges and we take on their families as well. Should a delivery not be convenient for whatever reason, we also have curbside pickup where a patient will come to our driveway and let us know they are driving a particular color and car [model], and we'll have a staff member outside so they don't have to look for parking, or take their children out of the car seats, and so on to make it really easy. It's our [Baptist Health] version of a drive through. Again, we offer free delivery, within a 15-mile radius to home, office, hotels, what have you, for new and refill prescriptions.

As far as outside [the organization], providers can electronically prescribe to us from any practice setting seamlessly and will deliver high quality care to all, so whether you're a patient leaving a bed, or if you live down the street and you just decide to use us and see the benefits we provide through the services we provide, our doors are open.

An example I'd like to give you would be our Baptist employees. Some folks, depending on where they live in work, don't use our system for medical care, but they do use our pharmacies. We receive electronic prescriptions from within or outside of the Baptist system so that’s seamless, and we provide the same care and offer benefits and services that cannot be duplicated outside of our Baptist pharmacies.

Pharmacy Times: Did the COVID-19 pandemic influence the way services are provided (eg, curbside pick-up, delivery), or was that in place prior to the pandemic?

Garland: We were in effect. What developed through [the pandemic] and required a workaround was the curbside [pick-up], which we didn't have an effect previously. So that stayed [in effect post-pandemic] because it's convenient for a lot of folks. We don't leave deliveries in somebody's door or in the mailbox, so due to the typical porch pirate activity, if the delivery is not going to work for 1 reason or another, the curbside is a great option if folks don't want to come into the hospital or they're not already in that facility.

Pharmacy Times: Are there any upcoming initiatives or plans to further enhance pharmaceutical services either inside or outside the Meds2Beds program?

Garland: Well, as far as the Meds2Beds program, we have expanded to something called Meds2Home for hospitals and patients where we don't have a pharmacy on-site. So, we get the orders from the physician, and we directly send them to the patient's home. They don't have to be there, but as long as somebody is there to sign…it's working well. And we can expand that to some of the other hospitals we are currently not in. We have some other programs that we're developing, [it would] probably be premature to speak about now, but ultimately, we will grow retail pharmacies into a couple of our other hospitals.

We recently released a [nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir] (Paxlovid; Pfizer) program for those that get COVID-19, we've seen a spike down in Miami. So, the physician, again, sends us the audit directly to our pharmacies, and the patient doesn't have to come by or maybe put others at risk, we deliver right to their home, same day, no charge.

We have some other programs that are out there, we have the [naloxone] (Narcan; Emergent BioSolutions) program to help reduce the deaths due to drug overdoses. Anybody could walk into any of our pharmacies, just for the asking, we'll get them 2 intranasal doses of [naloxone] that could be [for] the patient or significant other, the idea is that sometimes if somebody is in a dangerous way, or flatline, first responders often take 4 to 6 minutes and we all known [that amount of time] is critical if somebody's not breathing. So now the significant other has those doses, and it's very simple, we give an instruction sheet and English and Spanish are available, and at no charge again, we're saving lives. I think last year we put out about 2000 doses, and I've got to believe that we were lucky to save a couple of lives in that batch.

So, [we have] many other projects. We do a vaccine program, whether it's flu, RSV, or COVID-19 vaccines, we also do travel vaccines by appointment…I can't think of anything else right now, but I will tell you [that] we always have wheels turning and we're always looking to exceed the bar so patients have easy access to what they need when they need it.

Pharmacy Times: Any closing thoughts?

Garland: In summary, the Baptist Health pharmacy team is committed to providing top-notch care in a safe and efficient manner. [Patients] and [their] loved ones are family, and we're happy to assist always and deliver the Baptist patient experience.

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