Case Management

Tips to reduce medication-related readmissions

Case Management Insider, March 24, 2015

Medication errors or adverse drug interactions are a major cause of hospital readmissions.

More people come back to the hospital after discharge due to medication problems than due to any other case. Adverse drug events are often linked to patients that either do not understand or do not following medication instructions, according to The Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI).
With an increased emphasis on readmissions prevention, and new financial penalties for hospitals that fail to do so, it should be your goal as a case manager to help head off these problems before they occur.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in a new report called Medication Therapy Management Interventions in Outpatient Settings, outlined one strategy that can help—ensuring that pharmacists review clinical summaries from the patient’s medical record.
“Having access to patient health information is important for pharmacists to address complex medication therapy regimen issues, medication interactions, and under- or over-dosing issues,” states AHRQ.
Due to the importance of ensuring that patients take their medication properly, the AHRQ innovations page also lists some interventions that can help you ensure that pharmacists are engaged members of the care team so they can monitor for potential problems.
One program highlighted by AHRQ ran in 2013 and the MyRx Medication Adherence Program. It focused on helping older patients with hypertension and/or diabetes take their medications properly.
Pharmacists actually visited these patients at home to help them understand how to take their medication, perform medication reconciliation, and develop a care plan. These visits also gave patients an opportunity to ask questions about their condition. After the initial visit, the pharmacists also performed a follow-up phone call to check in.
The program resulted in lower blood pressure readings for participants.
In addition to highlighting successful interventions, AHRQ also recommends a number of tools that can ensure medication adherence, including a toolkit to monitor medications when a patient is transitioning to a new practitioner or a new level of care. This is a high-risk time when problems are likely to occur.
The toolkit can help guide your efforts from building your initiative and gathering support for the effort, to creating your team and designing your medication reconciliation process. From there it guides you through pilot testing, education training, and assessment.
Helping patients improve mediation adherence can not only help prevent avoidable readmissions, but help patients improve their health once they head home.

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