With growing concerns over readmission rates, many hospitals have chosen to take advantage of the value that pharmacists bring to the job by enlisting their services to set up medication reconciliation programs as part of the discharge process. These programs have shown to have a positive impact on readmission rates and result in significant reductions in healthcare costs.
Medication reconciliation programs involve a complete audit and review of patients’ medication lists, which helps reduce the risk of dangerous medication interactions once the patient returns home, and offers a time to counsel patients about their medication habits.
A study published by CVS Health shows the dramatic impact pharmacists can have on patient outcomes when they’re directly involved during transitions of care. By looking at 260 patients who were hospitalized over a five-month period, researchers found the risk of hospital readmission decreased by 50% when pharmacists provided medication reconciliation services.
According to Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality, six additional findings of the study include:
- Overall risk of hospital readmission fell to 11% for those in the reconciliation program
- There was a 50% reduction in readmission risk at 30 days for patients in the program
- For every $1 spent on the program, $2 was saved in healthcare costs, with total savings over the study amounting to $1,300 per person
- One in seven patients was readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge
- Of this group of patients, 66% of hospital readmissions resulted from medication non-adherence
- In the U.S., hospital readmissions cost more than $41 billion annually
The Role of Adherence
Significant financial and clinical benefits stand to be gained through improved medication adherence and better management of medications during the transition from hospital to home. While medication non-adherence in the U.S. is estimated to be a $290 billion problem, this study demonstrates how just one type of intervention has the potential to offer big savings for hospitals, and improved clinical outcomes for patients. Whether a hospital or community pharmacist, it’s clear medication reconciliations need to be part of every discharge process.
To read our past blog series and better understand how pharmacists can improve medication adherence, click here.