How Pharmacists and Nurse Practitioners Teamed Up to Cut Readmission Rates

According to an article published in Hospitals and Health Networks Daily, pharmacists and nurse practitioners are working together to reduce hospital readmission rates. Medication management issues play a large role in preventable readmissions, and these concerns can be greatly improved with the help of adequate follow-up care for patients after their release.

Finding a Solution

Making sure patients are recovering safely and comfortably after discharge is one of the main goals of every hospital, and yet, it can be one of the most challenging. High-risk patients in particular are more prone to being readmitted after discharge and to repeat emergency department visits.

Collaboration Between Pharmacy and Nursing

In order to better manage the factors that contribute to unnecessary readmission, pharmacists at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago proposed setting up a discharge clinic, initially as a pilot program, that involved collaboration with nurse practitioners.

The clinic provided 30-minute appointments to patients six days a week. A pharmacist was scheduled three of the days to conduct a hospital course evaluation and comprehensive medication history on patients. On the days the pharmacist was not scheduled, the nurse practitioner would perform the medication history and evaluation, and conduct a physical assessment.

The strength of this solution comes from combining the skills of both the pharmacist and the nurse practitioner. Because each position brings unique expertise to care transitions, patients are able to have access to the best follow-up care possible.

Reduction in Readmission Rates

Within the first month of Mercy’s discharge clinic, readmission rates were down significantly. While readmission rates of at-risk patients seen just by the nurse practitioner decreased, there was an even greater reduction when patients met with both the nurse practitioner and the pharmacist.

  • During the first month of the program just 3 percent of at-risk patients who were seen by both healthcare professionals were readmitted within 30 days of discharge
  • This number dropped to 2 percent by the end of the first quarter and to zero percent in the following three quarters.

Even more impressive are the overall outcomes of Mercy’s discharge clinic:

  • Readmission rates for all of the patients seen by the clinic decreased from 7 percent in the first quarter to 1 percent a year later.

The success of this pilot program shows just how effective combining the efforts of pharmacists and nurse practitioners can be when it comes to getting patients the follow-up care necessary to reduce readmission.

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