Grant will study role of medication management in patient outcomes after a hospital stay

Kroger-Logo-13Cincinnati, OH – A partnership involving The Health Collaborative, The Kroger Co., and the University of Cincinnati’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy has received a $600,000 research grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation. The two-year study will involve 1,000 area patients and measure the impact of having a pharmacist work together with patients to manage their medications after a hospital stay.

“We are enthusiastic about this project not just because of the value it brings to patients, providers and our community as a whole, but also because we have the opportunity to work with one of our biggest local corporations to bring innovative health care solutions to the community,” stated Craig Brammer, CEO of the Health Collaborative, HealthBridge and the Greater Cincinnati Health Council.

Nearly one in five Medicare patients is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge. Many of these readmissions are preventable. Hospital readmissions cost Medicare $26 billion in healthcare costs annually. Helping patients to use medications appropriately can be critical to preventing further complications and hospitalizations.

Under this new grant project, enrolled patients will receive medication management counseling through one of 45 Kroger pharmacies in the Cincinnati-Dayton Market area. The University of Cincinnati’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy will analyze and report on the study results.

“This important work will move pharmacists out from behind the counter to be part of the care team,” said Dr. Richard Shonk, Chief Medical Officer for the Health Collaborative, HealthBridge and the Greater Cincinnati Health Council. “We know that many patients and care givers struggle to manage medications which leads to errors, so it follows that when Pharmacist support with patient education and care coordination there is potential to improve outcomes.”

The Health Collaborative will involve its health care technology partner HealthBridge. HealthBridge will apply its information exchange technology so pharmacists, hospitals and doctors can share information about the patients in the study.

Additional partners include the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, American Mercy Home Care, UC Health, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, UC Health West Chester Hospital, and selected Mercy Health Hospitals. Patients discharged from these facilities will have the opportunity to volunteer for pharmacist counseling. The project will focus on patients recovering from heart attack, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or an acute incident involving chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or Diabetes.

“Our pharmacists will make appointments to meet with patients and care givers in person to reconcile medications, identify any issues, answer questions and provide suggestions for self management,” said Sukanya Madlinger, Cincinnati/Dayton Division President of the Kroger Co. “Pharmacists will also exchange information and collaborate with the patient’s primary care physician. This service is provided at no-charge to the patient.”

Following the initial meeting with the Kroger pharmacist, patients will also receive a follow-up phone call two-weeks after the in-person visit and again 30 days post-discharge. These check-ins ensure patients have timely answers to any questions about medications.
HealthBridge will connect hospitals and pharmacies electronically enabling them to send and securely receive a summary of a patient’s health record. In addition, HealthBridge and UC teams will work together to track readmissions for these patients.

“Our team of researchers will be comparing readmissions across the community to readmissions for patients enrolled in the study,” said Dr. Pamela Heaton, PhD, RPh, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Administrative Sciences of the University of Cincinnati’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. “We expect to reduce readmissions by 20 percent in our study group.”

The Health Collaborative and its partners were selected from more than 30 high caliber proposals to the NACDS Foundation. Two other proposals received grants; The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and Geisinger Center for Health Research in Pennsylvania.

“This research is so important to the advancement of patient care and we look forward to better understanding the impact of pharmacists’ collaboration with patients after they leave the hospital,” said NACDS Foundation President Kathleen Jaeger. “Too often hospital discharges lead to a revolving door of readmissions. But pharmacist-led medication management may help improve adherence, which can advance patient health, reduce hospital readmissions and help reduce unnecessary healthcare expenditures.”