AU Health’s retail pharmacy is working hard to address a problem that is often overlooked by patients and many health care professionals: patients being readmitted to the hospital due to medication-related issues. In many cases, the problem is simply a lack of education about the medication.
Pharmacy Services at AU Health has developed a Meds to Beds program to better educate patients about the medication they are receiving.
“Rehospitalizations and unnecessary Emergency Department visits may be attributed to people not understanding their medications or not taking them appropriately,” said Dr. Rashad Darby, manager of Community Pharmacy at Augusta University Medical Center. “We’re able to take the time and go through the things they need to know so they can stay on the medication.”
He gave the hypothetical example of patients leaving the hospital with a prescription in hand. They may go to their local retail pharmacies, and decline counseling from the pharmacist because they’re just ready to go home. Then, while taking the medication, they may encounter a side effect to the medication that may be known to resolve in a couple of days. But because the patient declined counseling, they won’t know that and will stop taking the medication.
When symptoms of the original condition return, they end up back in the emergency department and/or hospitalized, costing both the patient and the health system thousands of unnecessary dollars.
With the Meds to Beds program, a pharmacy technician brings the patient all their prescribed medications before they are discharged. They partner with the retail and clinical pharmacist to explain everything the patient needs to know about the medication. The patient can successfully continue treatment at home under their doctor’s guidance.
“I can almost guarantee that if I looked at someone who got Meds to Beds versus someone who did not, the stats will look a lot better for someone that’s getting Meds to Beds because there is so much more time spent with the patient,” Darby said.
Not only does the program address patient education about medications, but the pharmacy can address all parts of patient access to medication.
During the Meds to Beds program’s operating hours, a pharmacy technician is constantly monitoring prescriptions that are written for discharge. The tech follows the prescription to make sure the pharmacy receives and processes it in a timely manner. If a patient cannot afford their medication, there may be other options to help and the Meds to Beds team is able to communicate these options. Some examples are drug coupons or manufacturer programs. Both help to reduce cost, which is another known reason for patients not to take their medication.
“There’s a big team that works in tandem with the retail pharmacy to ensure that if a patient is being discharged on medication, that they get the medication and all the parts that require it to be fully fulfilled and picked up by the insurance are taken care of,” he said.
Meds to Beds technicians are stationed on every floor to easily be accessible to physicians and medical staff. Physicians can also communicate with the program’s technicians via instant messaging through Cerner.
Meds to Beds operating hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more convenience, curbside pick-up is offered by the retail pharmacy team during the same operating hours as Meds to Beds. This gives patients and their family members another option for picking up their medications without having to make another stop on their way home. The retail pharmacy is located on the second floor of Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
For more information, call 706-446-1234.