New Hospital Pharmacies Intend to Reduce Readmissions


Pharmacists at new on-site pharmacies in 2 Florida hospitals offer patients medication counseling with the aim of reducing readmission rates.

Pharmacists at new on-site pharmacies in 2 Florida hospitals offer patients medication counseling with the aim of reducing readmission rates.

Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida has joined a growing trend by opening on-site pharmacies in 2 of its hospitals that allow discharged patients to leave with their medicines in-hand. The system also offers patients and caregivers a chance to receive counseling from staff pharmacists.

According to recent articles published in Naples Daily News and by NBC2, a south Florida NBC affiliate, the pharmacies handle medicines that are not commonly found in retail pharmacies. In addition, the in-house pharmacies aim to reduce the length of hospital stays and prevent readmissions due to medication misuse.

“We want to help ease that transition from inpatient status to get them home and starting the healing process,” Mark Collum, PharmD, director of ambulatory pharmacy services for Lee Memorial Health System, told Naples Daily News. “If we can offer increased access to medications and an opportunity to educate patients, we can have a positive influence they are not coming back [and getting readmitted].”

The pharmacies are located in Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, FL, and in HealthPark Medical Center, south of Fort Myers. The pharmacy at Lee Memorial Hospital, which opened in August, fills about 50 prescriptions per day for discharged patients and performs compounding services.

The pharmacies are tailored to each location’s specific needs, focusing in particular on harder-to-find medications, according to NBC2.

“We looked at the types of medications dispensed over the last year and made sure that we had all the very expensive and high-risk meds that people had trouble finding when they go home from the hospital, to make sure we had them in stock,” Dr. Collum told NBC2. “On the days that the surgeons see lots of patients, we know 2 days later we’re going to have a lot of discharge patients that we need to care for.”

Launching the hospital-based pharmacies cost $250,000 per location, including the addition of 4 new employees at each hospital. The Lee Memorial Health System board of directors plans to evaluate the new programs before opening pharmacies in its other hospital locations, according to Naples Daily News.

Establishing the hospital pharmacies as a means of reducing readmissions is motivated in part by newly established federal government penalties for avoidable readmissions, according to Naples News. As of October 1, 2012, hospitals began to face a 1% base rate cut in Medicare reimbursements if they have higher than normal readmission rates. The penalty is set to increase to 2% in 2013 and 3% in 2014, the article stated.

Approximately 35% of hospitals in the nation have a pharmacy that handles patient discharges, Doug Scheckelhoff, vice president of professional development for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists told Naples Daily News. On-site pharmacy services increase patients’ medication compliance after discharge, whether pharmacists deliver medicines directly to patients prior to discharge or send scripts to a nearby pharmacy, he added.

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