How Big Pharmacies Employ Pharmacists to Reduce Hospital Readmissions

As we have discussed in our previous blog, hospitals are currently in the process of adjusting to the Value Based Purchasing (VBP) system mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  One of the key measures hospitals are subject to is readmissions of recently discharged patients for the same condition (DRG), or so-called “bounce backs”.

An important driver of readmissions is a lack of compliance to post discharge care, including medication regimens.  Many studies have demonstrated the value of pre and post patient discharge medication reconciliation and education by pharmacists in decreasing the rates of readmission.  The problem is that hospitals do not have the necessary pharmacy staff to handle this level of workload.

This is where Walgreens smelled opportunity.  In several pilot programs, Walgreens will send one of their pharmacists to the hospital or patient’s home to perform the medication reconciliation and patient education, also bringing the patient their first fill of their discharge medication.

This appears to be a Win-Win-Win situation: the hospital realizes a reduction in readmissions (improving their potential for increased reimbursement from CMS), the patient receives individualized education with the hope for an improved outcome, and Walgreens captures a new customer as well as strengthens its relationship with the hospital.  The only losers here are independent community pharmacies who had been serving the patients previously (assuming such a relationship had existed).

Overall, this is a very astute program by Walgreens, and it will be interesting to watch and see how it evolves and who follows their lead.


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