With hospitals at capacity in some parts of the nation during the current pandemic, healthcare organizations are focusing on taking proactive steps to help members and patients remain healthy and at home. This is especially true for individuals who are recently discharged from the hospital, since many in this population are often at-risk for re-admittance.

A 2018 study found that one in five Medicare beneficiaries experience a hospital readmission within 30 days after discharge. Unplanned readmissions cost the United States an estimated $17 billion. Research also shows that nearly 75% of these types of events could have been avoided. Many return trips to the hospital are caused by adverse drug events, an especially problematic issue among patients with low health literacy, complex medication regiments or prescriptions of high-risk medications.

Reconciling differences

Now more than ever, healthcare organizations need to ensure that members understand their medication instructions and that medications are coordinated effectively during the gap between a hospital stay and the first visit to a physician after discharge. That’s where medication reconciliation processes hold promise in reducing drug-related readmissions, according to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.

So when one healthcare organization needed an efficient and effective way to communicate with recently hospitalized members about their new medication list, they turned to Carenet Health.

Together, the partners worked to develop a medication reconciliation process that tested the value of medication reviews with a select member population. A key component of the process was the role of  Carenet Health registered nurses (RNs). (Learn more about how our RNs work with patients on medication adherence.)

Our experienced nurses contacted individuals who had been discharged from the hospital after suffering a defined major cardiovascular issue, such as a heart attack, to check in with the individual, discuss new medications and pinpoint any possible duplicate therapies. They also asked questions relating to any adverse medication reactions that might be occurring and gauged the person’s understanding of the purpose of the new medications and educated them as needed. Finally, the nurses provided encouragement for continued adherence to their medication schedules and doctor’s appointments.

Refilling health

The data from this initiative showed that the majority of individuals’ adherence to recommended medication treatment increased after the engagement with an RN compared to a control group with no RN contact. In addition, adherence continued several months post-discharge.

The test of the process also revealed several opportunities for improvement in the outreach program, and areas where more testing would be beneficial to refine the process.

For more insights on medication adherence, download our ebook on overcoming medication adherence barriers today.

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If you’re interested learning more—particularly creating and testing (or testing and refining) a healthcare engagement strategy—please reach out to our experts to start the conversation.