Pharmacy & Healthcare

A helping hand after the hospital

Walgreens and Village Medical launch a new medication reconciliation pilot to help patients better manage their prescription regimens, reduce confusion, and experience better health outcomes.
Imagine your grandmother was just discharged from the hospital after a bout of pneumonia. She’s not feeling 100% yet but is well enough to go home. She has three prescriptions to fill and isn’t sure how they’ll work with her existing medications, so she’s hesitant about taking them. That uncertainty can have negative, and sometimes devastating effects on a patient’s health.

Dealing with an illness requiring hospitalization can be difficult and stressful for patients and caregivers. Managing new medications prescribed during their hospital stay and coordinating them with existing ones adds another layer of confusion and anxiety for patients who simply want to focus on healing and recovery.

To address this, Walgreens U.S. Healthcare recently launched a new pilot in Florida and Texas aimed at providing additional coordinated care for mutual Walgreens and Village Medical patients after they have been discharged from the hospital and simplifying the prescription process.

Under the pilot, Walgreens works with eligible Village Medical and Walgreens pharmacy patients soon after their hospital discharge, to ensure medications prescribed during their hospital stay align with the patient’s previous and current prescription and over-the-counter medication regimen. The anticipated benefits of the program include meaningfully improved patient outcomes and decreasing costs that come with hospital readmission.

“Leaving the hospital can be unsettling, as patients adjust to a new diagnosis, treatment plan or recovery after surgery,” says Mike Umbleby, vice president of integration for Walgreens Boots Alliance. “Their discharge instructions, including changes to medications, may be overwhelming and difficult to navigate, which can lead to serious issues that can cause a hospital readmission.”

In 2021, 17% of Medicare patients who were discharged ended up back in the hospital. Because proper management of medications is so important to patient recovery, the pharmacy can play a critical role in the process.

“The pharmacy is usually the first place a patient or caregiver goes after being released from the hospital,” says Adam Chesler, PharmD, senior vice president of pharmacy for VillageMD. “No one is better equipped to help a patient manage their medications more effectively than the patient’s care team. Through collaboration with Walgreens, our Village Medical physicians and advanced practice providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are embracing the opportunity to improve access to pharmacist-powered medication reconciliation and reduce hospital readmissions.”

Medication reconciliation is the process of comparing a patient’s medication orders to all of the medications that the patient has been taking. This reconciliation is done to avoid medication errors such as omissions, duplicaitons, dosing errors, or drug interactions.

Putting the plan into action

During the pilot, when the Village Medical team receives notification that one of their patients has been recently discharged from the hospital, they are able to determine whether that patient is also a Walgreens pharmacy patient and may benefit from this new medication reconciliation pilot.

Once identified, Village Medical and Walgreens work together to coordinate care for those mutual patients who then go to their neighborhood Walgreens to fill their post-discharge medications.  The Walgreens pharmacist is able to offer medication reconciliation assistance, and interested patients will receive a “Patient Action Plan” showing medications to start, stop and continue, based on their discharge instructions. Pharmacists can conduct medication reconciliation at the store, in person or on the telephone or, if necessary, can conduct the process with the patient’s caregiver.

“Through this collaboration between VillageMD and Walgreens, we can provide a personal service that connects patients with the right care, at the right time,” said Chesler. “This can also help foster long-term relationships between patients, Walgreens pharmacists and Village Medical physicians, as well as behaviors that help patients get and stay healthy.”

“Respecting patient choice and privacy is critical,” Chesler continues. “Village Medical and Walgreens work together to ensure that all care coordination and communications involving their mutual patients is secure and compliant.”

Value-based care shifts the focus of the healthcare industry from quantity to quality to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. But Umbleby understands that shift can’t occur without freeing up some of the pharmacy team’s time. As Walgreens continues to implement new programs and technologies like this medication reconciliation pilot, there is a focus on enabling pharmacy teams to interact more with patients and providers.

“When you are responsible for the patient’s health holistically, reducing hospital readmissions is just one part of providing quality care,” says Chesler. “It takes a collaborative approach to be successful in taking care of every patient, and pharmacists continue to be a critical part of a patient’s health journey.”

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