As I discussed in my previous article, there are many reasons that health systems should consider having an outpatient pharmacy to improve transitions of care. The way healthcare provider’s transition care from the acute to post-acute settings is critical to patient outcomes and also to patients’ perception of their overall care experience.
In this age of consumer-driven healthcare in which patients are more informed about the causes and treatment options for their conditions and their many choices of when and how to access their healthcare needs, offering seamless, convenient services can be a differentiator for patient outcomes and patient-perceived quality of care.
The foundation for high-quality transitions of care as it relates to their pharmaceutical care starts with the patient having their medications in-hand, with an understanding of how and why to take these medications, before they leave the hospital. Having a coordinated retail pharmacy strategy is key to this, and I believe to most efficiently provide this foundation, a hospital or health provider should have an outpatient, retail pharmacy onsite. Personalized pharmacist interaction can reduce patients’ confusion over medication instructions and improve medication compliance, thereby improving patient satisfaction, reducing the probability of medication-related hospital readmissions and increasing revenue for the hospital.
One way to elevate outpatient pharmacy services to further increase quality of care is to implement a bedside discharge concierge service as a way to “bring the pharmacy to the patients” before they leave the hospital. In this model, pharmacy staff delivers medications and facilitates medication education directly at the patient’s bedside prior to discharge. This prevents the need for the patient or family to make a stop at the pharmacy on the way home upon discharge. Research has shown that up to 30% of prescriptions are never filled1, which can negatively impact the patient’s outcome. Having discharge prescriptions in-hand with an understanding of how and why to take the medications before they leave the health care facility is key to eliminating the “access barrier.”
In this article, I will further explain why a bedside discharge program is a strategy worth considering and the high-level process for starting this type of service.