As hospital executives look for ways to reduce readmissions and better manage patients’ health beyond the physical four walls, pharmacists are proving to be an invaluable asset. While hospital pharmacists can participate in programs such as antibiotic stewardship and discharge planning and education, their community-based pharmacist colleagues can ensure patients keep up proper health habits once they return home.
A recent pilot project showed that when community pharmacists team up with physicians and have access to the electronic health record (EHR) they can make an even bigger impact. The pilot involves a Kroger pharmacist and a local physician in Grove City, Ohio as part of a NACDS-sponsored study.
Sharing Information Through the EHR
Going beyond simply coordinating patients’ medications and self-management (which is in itself no simple matter), the pharmacist and physician have set up full communication between their offices through the patient’s electronic health record. Sharing EHRs can improve efficiency for both the pharmacist and physician while improving the care patients receive.
In addition to information about the patient’s medications and condition, the pharmacist gains access to lab results, physician’s notes, and other information that aids in advising the patient on medication matters. With the manifold reasons patients have for being non-adherent to medications, the pharmacist is now armed with the full arsenal of health information to help identify patient risks.
In return, the pharmacist is able to add patient notes to the system, enhancing the physician’s knowledge of how patients manage their care in the community between appointments. One of the study authors observed that this collaboration resulted in a strengthened relationship and trust between the pharmacist and physician.
Addressing Medication Adherence
The pharmacist involved in the project discovered that many patients who had extensive medication lists due to chronic conditions also had low health literacy—a recipe for medication non-adherence.
A recent study conducted by Omnicell UK delved into non-adherence and revealed that one in five patients openly admit to skipping their medications. With odds such as these, and some estimates closer to 50% of patients being non-adherent, programs that improve not only health literacy, but also patient behaviors, should be praised.