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Hospitals Look at Retail Pharmacies With Renewed Interest

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, February 3, 2014

It's more than convenience: An integrated retail pharmacy provides hospitals with opportunities to boost patient satisfaction and lower readmission rates while producing modest revenue.

U.S. hospitals have offered on-campus retail pharmacies for years, but the drive to achieve improvements across the continuum of care is prompting a surge in new facilities and reinvention of existing on-site drug stores.

"A retail pharmacy based on-campus and operated by the hospital provides an integrated continuum of care for one of the most critical steps in the health care transitions process," said Christine Collins, director of pharmacy at Lifespan, which includes Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island. "Research has shown that over half of medication errors occur during transitions in care."

Lifespan plans to have two on-campus retail pharmacies open at its Providence hospitals by the end of the year. The health system opened its first retail pharmacy at Rhode Island Hospital in May 2013 and a second site is set to open at The Miriam in the fall.

"By having our own pharmacy, we can provide integrated care," Collins said. "Our pharmacists have full electronic access to the patients' hospital record, including inpatient medications, lab and microbiology results, physician's notes and pharmacy interventions. It is also very collaborative. We can consult with the patient's physicians, nurses and other health professionals before the patient even leaves the hospital. And it's patient-centered. We can deliver the medications right to the patient's bedside before they are discharged. This is not only a convenience, but it also provides a major safety enhancement by ensuring that the patient actually fills their prescription."

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