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Medication Reconciliation Slashes Readmissions

News  |  By HealthLeaders Media News  
   July 21, 2016

Pharmacy review, adherence counseling during discharge, and ongoing telephone follow up identify safety concerns, prove cost-effective, researchers find.

Hospital-based medication reconciliation programs that include a pharmacy review and adherence counseling during discharge slash readmissions in half, according to a new study published in the July issue of Health Affairs.

The study evaluated the effect of an insurer-supported medication reconciliation program on clinical outcomes and healthcare spending.

The CVS Health Research Institute analyzed hospital readmissions of more than 260 members of a national health plan who were hospitalized over a five-month period.

Researchers compared readmission rates for patients enrolled in a medication reconciliation program upon hospital discharge to a control group of patients who received no additional support following their hospital stay.

Program participants received an initial in-home or telephone consultation based on their readmission risk and were offered ongoing telephone support for 30 days after discharge.

During the initial consultations, pharmacists

  • Compared members' pre- and post-hospitalization medication regimens
  • Identified discrepancies, redundancies, and safety concerns
  • Provided education and support on medication use and adherence

The researchers found that risk of hospital readmission at 30 days was cut by 50%, lowering overall risk of hospital readmission from 22% to 11% for those in the medication reconciliation program.

Additionally, the health plan saved $2 for every $1 spent on the program, resulting in a total savings of more than $1,300 per member.

"These results represent real-world evidence that insurer-initiated, pharmacist-led care transition programs, focused on, but not limited to medication reconciliation, have the potential to both improve clinical outcomes and reduce total costs of care," the study abstract said.

Similarly, a 2014 study showed that patients who participated in the Walgreens WellTransitions program were 46% less likely to be readmitted within 30 days.

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