PHARMACY

Walgreens introduces WellTransitions, a coordinated care model that works in tandem with hospitals

BY Michael Johnsen

 DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens pharmacists are on the frontlines of a new transition of care program, WellTransitions, which brings hospitals and health systems together with Walgreens in a coordinated care model designed to reduce readmission rates and overall healthcare costs while improving patient health outcomes and medication adherence, Walgreens announced Tuesday. The WellTransitions program is being rolled out as thousands of hospitals nationwide face possible penalties from Medicare for patient readmission rates that are too high, under a new law that took effect Oct. 1.

“When a patient leaves the hospital with a new medication regimen, it can be overwhelming for both the individual and a caregiver,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “Readmissions can be costly for the patient as well as our healthcare system. Through this program, our pharmacists work closely with hospital staff to oversee medication therapies and to help make the discharge process smoother, providing the care patients need during — as well as after — being discharged.”

According to Washington Adventist Hospital in Maryland, of its first 48 high-risk patients enrolled in WellTransitions, only three were readmitted within 30 days of discharge.

Preventable hospital readmissions cost the U.S. healthcare system approximately $25 billion per year, Walgreens stated, citing a Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Health Research Institute study. And according to a 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly one in five Medicare patients is re-hospitalized within 30 days of discharge.

WellTransitions is now available to patients at a growing number of locations, including Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md., and Marion General Hospital in Marion, Ind. As many hospitals and medicals centers place a greater emphasis on reducing patient readmissions, Walgreens aims to broadly roll out the program to other facilities throughout the U.S., including many of the more than 150 hospitals and health systems where Walgreens operates an outpatient pharmacy, the company stated. 

The WellTransitions program offers a number of services, including:

  • Medication review – pharmacists review patients’ prescriptions upon admission to the hospital and at discharge, and check for potential interactions and simplification of medication regimen;
  • Bedside medication delivery – Walgreens pharmacy staff member delivers medication the patient will need to take after discharge to the patient’s room, and offers medication education and instruction;
  • Patient counseling – pharmacists provide medication counseling to both the patient and caregiver and work in close communication with the medical staff;
  • Regularly-scheduled follow-up calls – pharmacists conduct regular calls to follow up on patient progress, discuss regimen and answer any questions or concerns; and
  • 24/7 pharmacist support – pharmacy staff is available to answer patient questions 24/7, either over the phone or online. 

Pharmacists also work with patients to ensure they’ve scheduled an appointment with their primary care physician and to reinforce important self-care principles, such as checking their weight daily and reporting any significant fluctuations to their doctor. 

Walgreens and Sarasota Memorial Hospital have collaborated to improve patient care through various programs since 2009. The hospital recently implemented a WellTransitions program, in which more than 180 heart failure patients have participated. The program provides patient services at key points during the critical first days following discharge, and while outcomes data is not yet available, hospital officials have recognized a trend of positive results. 

“From that beginning, our relationship has grown to Walgreens participation in medication education and reconciliation, discharge phone calls, and calls to the patients later in the 30 days post-discharge for follow-up,” stated Spence Hudon, clinical manager of Sarasota Memorial’s inpatient heart failure unit. “Walgreens has proven to be a reliable and helpful partner in our attempt to provide excellent care to our heart failure patients while preventing readmissions.”

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J.ANDERSON says:
Sep-27-2013 07:41 pm

Preventable hospital readmissions cost the U.S. healthcare system approximately $25 billion per year - WOW! Crazy amount of money being lost every year.

A.Dentists says:
Jun-05-2013 01:07 pm

I think it is amazing that Walgreens would start a program like this. It seems like it is really geared toward actually helping people rather than trying to improve public image or turn a quick buck. If only more businesses would actually try to start helping people again.

will ofara says:
May-13-2013 08:09 pm

AS a pharmacist in Walgreen, it is a good program and works flawlessly!

Senior Drug User says:
Oct-17-2012 04:56 pm

Sounds good. Let's hope the companies and investors all are rewarded at the end. I meant the little companies. :)

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NCPA Digest: Business climate tougher for indies, but they still represent better bang for healthcare buck

BY Michael Johnsen

 SAN DIEGO — The number of independents still is down from 2000, and margins of 2.9% represent the lowest in five years. However community pharmacists have proven resilient and helped reduce healthcare costs by dispensing a record high number of lower-cost generic drugs in 2011 and reported more frequent interaction with physicians to promote the appropriate use of generics, according to the 2012 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health.

“The 2012 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, provides fresh evidence of how trusted community pharmacists are working with patients and their physicians to improve health outcomes while reducing costs,” stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “Independent community pharmacists shattered their previous record in frequency of dispensing lower-cost generic drugs by raising the bar even higher in 2011. In addition, these small business healthcare providers are counseling patients face-to-face on the proper use of and adherence to their prescription drug regimen — making a dent in the estimated $290 billion in healthcare costs attributed to nonadherence," he said. “Community pharmacists are working more frequently with physicians and continue to play a vital role in improving health outcomes while reducing costs.”

The NCPA Digest findings included: 

  • The number of total independent community pharmacies increased slightly from 23,064 to 23,106 but have still not recovered to 2000 levels, when they totaled 24,861;
  • The pretax net profit margin for the average independent community pharmacy fell to 2.9%, its lowest level in five years. Similarly, the number of independent pharmacies operating at a net financial loss increased slightly and continues to account for roughly 1-in-4 of these pharmacies;
  • As the last Digest also found, 92% of revenue was derived from the sale of prescription drugs;
  • Government-sponsored programs accounted for the largest share (49%) of their prescriptions;
  • Independent community pharmacies set a new high in generic drug utilization, increasing their generic dispensing rate to 76% from 72%;
  • Independent community pharmacists consulted with doctors about prescription drug therapy 7.9 times per day on average, marking a significant increase over prior years;
  • Half of these pharmacies now have a formal program to increase medication adherence, such as refill synchronization programs like Simplify My Meds;
  • To help remain competitive, independent community pharmacies found efficiencies to reduce their dispensing costs slightly, from $12.44 to $12.19 per prescription; and
  • The most common niche services offered by independents include same-day home delivery (82% of pharmacies offer it, most free of charge), compounding (66%), durable medical equipment (65%) and immunizations (60%). 

The Digest, a comprehensive survey of the current state of independent community pharmacies, was released Monday at NCPA’s 114th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition.

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Pfizer honored with NCPA 2012 Corporate Recognition Award

BY Michael Johnsen

 SAN DIEGO — Pfizer on Monday was awarded the National Community Pharmacists Association 2012 Corporate Recognition Award at NCPA’s 114th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition, the association announced Monday. 

“Pfizer is a longtime and steadfast supporter of independent community pharmacies and NCPA,” stated Lonny Wilson, NCPA president. “They often have been a quiet supporter, not seeking attention or headlines. However, I can proudly tell you that Pfizer has been a driving and indispensable force in NCPA’s adherence initiative PAMA, which stands for Pharmacists Advancing Medication Adherence. Pfizer wants to help reduce the billions of dollars a year that are wasted on the improper use of medications, by focusing on pharmacist-provided patient care services that improve patient outcomes. NCPA’s efforts are critical to that goal.”

NCPA has committed that by 2015, actions taken by independent community pharmacists will result in demonstrable improvement in patient medication adherence rates through the PAMA initiative. The core elements of this program will address behavioral changes in pharmacists’ actions and business enhancement opportunities. Pfizer supported the initiative since its inception.

 

 

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