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Tech Tackles Medication Management

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, February 13, 2014
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"What we bring is that visibility, that connection, that follow-up, from a community standpoint, that traditionally on its own a hospital wouldn't have," says Joel Wright, group vice president of enterprise specialty at Walgreens.

Walgreens formed three ACOs with physician practices in January 2013: Advocare Walgreens Well Network in Marlton, N.J.; the Diagnostic Clinic Walgreens Well Network in Largo, Fla.; and the Scott & White Healthcare Walgreens Well Network in Temple, Texas.

Walgreens' WellTransitions program, recently endorsed by the American Hospital Association, "really focused around the six core disease states that Medicare has outlined" as highest risk for readmission, Wright says. Those disease states include acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass grafting procedures, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.

Walgreens, using Loopback technology, is able to provide patients' medication history to hospitals at admission to facilitate medication reconciliation, and then to take that reconciled medication list back for use in the community pharmacy postdischarge, Wright says. "Right then we clean up that patient's outpatient profile and close prescriptions the patient should no longer be on," he says. "That way the prescriptions don't get filled in error, and it helps reduce the chance of patients being confused about which medication they should really take or not take."

Within the first six months after the program's implementation at five hospitals, WellTransitions patients had a 9.4% unadjusted rate of 30-day readmission, compared to a 14.3% 30-day readmission rate for patients eligible for but not participating in the program, according to Walgreens.

Mobile apps

At home, patients may find themselves looking at a bottle of pills, wondering if they have taken their medication or not. Many choose to skip a dose because of their uncertainty. Others ignore warnings not to take medicines with other drugs or food that could have an adverse effect.

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