Pharmacist Phone Calls Could Reduce Readmissions

Pharmacists may be able to reduce hospital readmissions by calling discharged patients to check in about their medications.

Pharmacists may be able to reduce hospital readmissions by calling discharged patients to check in about their medications.

Amy Drew, PharmD, of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, told Pharmacy Times about her research team’s new study, which was presented at the 2015 American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Global Conference on Clinical Pharmacy.

Dr. Drew and her colleagues observed discharged hospital patients who had received care from a primary care provider at 1 of 2 clinics in order to determine whether or not pharmacist-provided discharge counseling services could lead to a reduction in hospital readmission rates.

The investigators knew that medication reconciliation could lead to decreased medication errors and improved medication adherence, Dr. Drew told Pharmacy Times. However, as a clinic, the researchers also wanted to investigate whether pharmacists could also decrease readmission rates for their patients.

The patients were contacted by a pharmacist typically within 2 days after being discharged. The patients’ discharge medication summaries were reviewed, and any discrepancies were presented to the patients’ provider.

While there was not a significant reduction in hospital readmission rates following pharmacist-led post-discharge medication reconciliation, there was a significant reduction in readmission in the pharmacist-intervention group when looking at just the patients who saw their primary care provider within 2 weeks.

In addition, the researchers found that patients admitted in the previous year were 2.4 times more likely to be readmitted after controlling for a primary care provider visit within 14 days, age, length of stay, intervention, and number of medications at discharge.

Similarly, when controlling for those variables, patients discharged with 13 or more medications were 50% more likely to be readmitted compared with patients with fewer than 8 medications.

“We are interested in exploring which patients might benefit most from this type of pharmacy service,” Dr. Drew said. “Perhaps focusing medication reconciliation and discharge counseling on individuals at highest risk could provide great benefit to them, the clinic, as well as the hospital. Also, we are continuing to examine the impact of pharmacist-led discharge medication reconciliation calls, specifically, and seeing the potential benefit on reducing readmissions.”

Dr. Drew added that the team hopes that pharmacists could be instrumental in boosting star ratings.

The researchers cited that around 1 in 5 patients discharged from hospitals to their home environment experience an adverse event. About two-thirds of those events are related to medication changes during their hospitalization period.