Recently the Cardinal Health Foundation announced its 2016 E3 (Effectiveness, Efficiency and Excellence in Healthcare) Patient Safety Grant winners, awarding nearly $2 million to 13 total hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country. All of the grantees were selected for their focus on improving medication safety for patients during transitions of care. Grantees’ projects also include strategies to increase patient engagement, because patients who are engaged in their healthcare decision-making tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.
As they develop their projects to improve patient safety and patient engagement, the grantees will also participate in the E3 Learning Collaborative, convened by the Cardinal Health Foundation and facilitated by the Alliance for Integrated Medication Management (AIMM).
AIMM is a non-profit organization that promotes quality improvement in medication management, particularly for high-risk, high-cost patients who have multiple chronic health conditions. Through the E3 Learning Collaborative, AIMM will support the grantees’ improvement transformations. The collaborative will encourage the healthcare organizations to learn from each other and accomplish more—faster than they could on their own.
Todd D. Sorensen, PharmD, is AIMM’s executive director. He is also the associate department head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health System at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy. Here, Sorensen chats with Dianne Radigan, vice president of the Cardinal Health Foundation, about the new Cardinal Health E3 Learning Collaborative.
Radigan: The grantees in the E3 Learning Collaborative are working on a wide variety of projects. Some of the organizations are working with pediatric patients, others with adults with chronic illnesses, and others with seniors. How will the various healthcare organizations help each other make improvements?
Sorensen: The great diversity in the E3 grant recipients is what makes this learning collaborative so exciting: Each project offers a diverse set of experiences. We expect that the lessons learned by each organization will help the others manage their own improvement efforts.
Though the patient population and clinical issues may be different from one organization to another, the principles for team-based care, quality improvement, and the approach to optimize medication use are largely the same.
Radigan: Let’s talk about why optimizing medication use in care transitions is such a critical issue.
Sorensen: Patients are frequently at risk for complications during care transitions. Transitions can be difficult to navigate, compounding the challenges and complications. Medication management is a large component in care transitions—and one of the most common causes of patient harm.
Medication issues are often the cause when a patient is readmitted to the hospital for reasons related to his or her initial admission. And healthcare systems now face financial consequences for those readmissions. Medication safety is a priority for safe care transitions.
Radigan: We know that in many cases, a key to improving medication safety is the more effective integration of pharmacy services. Why is that so critical to success?
Sorensen: Helping patients reach and sustain medication-related goals takes an inter-professional team. A pharmacist is essential to that team, and most of the organizations working with AIMM have incorporated a pharmacist into their healthcare team. Pharmacists bring a unique perspective and assessment process to patient care that is complimentary to that of physicians, nurses and other practitioners.
The pharmacist’s role becomes particularly significant when they are part of the healthcare team for patients with complicated medication regimens. With the pharmacist’s specialized medication expertise, he or she is able to capture the effective medication regimen that must be individualized to each patient’s medical condition(s).