Bringing Pharmacists to the Patient's Bedside: How Mercy Health Reduced Readmissions by 20%

Medication noncompliance is one of the major causes of hospital readmissions, which could cause financial penalties for hospitals beginning October 2013 if the readmissions are too frequent and potentially preventable. To boost medication adherence and prevent readmissions, Mercy Health-Fairfield (Ohio) Hospital piloted a program in February 2011 that brought pharmacists to the patient's bedside. After only one year, the hospital has reduced readmissions by 20 percent and has seen a significant reduction in length of stay and an increase in patient satisfaction. The program is being adopted throughout its parent system, Cincinnati-based Mercy Health.

Under the program, pharmacists introduce themselves to patients within 48 hours of being admitted and provide them with a business card with a direct phone line. Throughout their hospital stay, patients have the opportunity to speak with the pharmacist about their medication.

The program is changing the role of the pharmacist in healthcare, according to Jason Niemann, director of pharmacy services for Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital and leader of the pilot program. "They were always part of the team, but now they're more visible, more of a patient advocate in terms of [being] intimately involved in direct patient care," he says. Giving patients a direct line to the pharmacist improves communication and ensures patients are educated about their medication.

Before discharge, the pharmacist meets with the patient again to explain his or her medication regimen and possible side effects. Patients also have the opportunity to have the medication delivered to the bedside via an integrated outpatient pharmacy. "[The program] engages interdisciplinary team members as well as the patient in identifying possible barriers to medication [adherence]," says Mr. Niemann.

More Articles on Hospital Readmissions:

Using Patient Satisfaction Measures to Reduce Hospital Readmissions
62 Florida Hospitals Join National Initiative to Improve Safety, Readmissions Rate

3 Data Points to Track to Drive Hospital Discharge Best Practices

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