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College of Pharmacy Launches Transitions in Care Program

Provides post-discharge care to patients at Summa Rehab Hospital

The College of Pharmacy at Northeast Ohio Medical University launched the College’s first Transitions in Care program through its affiliate, Pharmacy Innovations, LLC, and in partnership with Ritzman Pharmacy at NEOMED and Summa Rehab Hospital. Services through the program, which began Jan. 5. 2017, include concierge service, medication education and discharge counseling – all – at no additional charge to the patient.

The unique collaboration responds instantly to a number of critical concerns in health care today: medication adherence, access to quality health care and health literacy and re-admissions.

“We hope to decrease re-admissions and increase compliance with patients taking their meds as prescribed,” said Jeffrey Sanderson, M.D., medical director at Summa Rehab Hospital. “While it’s too early to project the long-run, we’ve already seen compliance – with patients getting their initial prescriptions filled – increase from an average 50 percent to 100 percent [for those introduced to the program].”

The process is fluid and begins as patients with varied medical needs (orthopaedic, trauma, etc.) are admitted to the Summa Rehab Hospital, a 60-bed inpatient acute medical rehabilitation hospital.  Upon admission, patients are automatically enrolled in the Transitions in Care Program, but they may opt out if desired.  Twenty-four hours prior to discharge, medication orders are sent to Ritzman Pharmacy at NEOMED for preparation.  On the day of discharge the medications are delivered via courier to the Pharmacy Department at Summa Rehab.  The Transitions in Care pharmacist then provides medication education, discharge counselling and discharge medications.

But it’s the direct interaction with pharmacists prior to discharge that’s key to increasing adherence, notes Charles Taylor, Pharm.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy at NEOMED and president of Pharmacy Innovations. “Interprofessionally educated pharmacists can play a huge role as part of the care team. We need them to be recognized as providers of care.”

George Glatcz, chief operating officer, Ritzman Pharmacy, agrees, “It makes sense for pharmacist to play a role before discharge. Usually a patient is sent home with a prescription, no medication education and no medication. It is no wonder that three out of four Americans do not take their medication as directed.”

Transitions in Care programs are on the increase. There are even a handful of residencies for Postgraduate Year Two (PGY2) pharmacists across the country. With health care facing an increased shortage of primary care physicians, medication adherence hovering around 50 percent and providers striving to reduce readmissions, patients, physicians and providers would all benefit from pharmacists as part of the care team.

“One day, that follow-up call by a pharmacist after discharge, could be followed by a visit to a patient’s home,” Dr. Taylor adds, with cautious optimism.