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A new bedside delivery service of outpatient medications is being tested at an acute care facility in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A new bedside delivery service of outpatient medications is being tested at West Chester Hospital, a small acute care facility based in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the help of the entire healthcare team, including pharmacists, before being fully implemented next year.
In January, nursing staff at this 6-year-old community hospital, which is affiliated with University of Cincinnati Health and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, began to introduce its surgical patients to a new service to receive their medications before discharge. If patients agree to the service, the outpatient pharmacy within the hospital fills the prescriptions and they are delivered to the patient by the pharmacy technician.
Using a device attached to an iPad, the pharmacy technician can complete the transaction with a swipe of the patient’s credit card. The technician also asks the patients about any questions they may have about their medication. The technician contacts the clinical pharmacist who works on the surgical floor to stop by and provide the needed education for the patient.
Since the program started, Marcia Malone, PharmD, the pharmacy clinical coordinator at West Chester Hospital, noted that about 20 to 30% of the surgical patients have participated in the pilot program.
“It is new for our nursing staff to promote the service,” explained Malone, who is also the hospital’s residency program director for PGY-1 residents. “We want [the nursing staff] to remember to introduce the service, although they have so much to think about. I think hard-wiring that in will take some time, but we definitely have seen an increase in the number of prescriptions that are being delivered at the bedside.”
Increase awareness of outpatient pharmacy
The pharmacy decided to start this pilot program to increase awareness of its outpatient pharmacy within the hospital and utilize the expertise of the clinical pharmacists to help with transitions of care.
“We are hoping to be part of closing the loop in transitions of care in regards to medications and patients being able to obtain their medication while they are here,” Malone explained. “This [service] is a patient satisfier and we feel like we can have a role in ensuring that patients are getting their prescriptions filled and receiving education about their outpatient prescriptions.”
West Chester Hospital will be evaluating the bedside delivery pilot project in terms of patient uptake and satisfaction with the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.
“We are going to be looking at the HCAHPS numbers before and after implementation of this service, but we do realize that we are not the only department trying to impact those numbers,” she said.
Before implementation of a program like this, it is important to obtain administrative buy-in. Increased outpatient pharmacy prescriptions and patient satisfaction were big drivers of the decision for bedside delivery at West Chester, Malone said. However, there was the added expense of a full-time pharmacy technician in the outpatient pharmacy and the technology expense of an iPad and the application to connect the iPad to the credit card swipe device.
“From the pharmacy standpoint, our pharmacy team was excited about the implementation of technology and how that can be used to improve patient care. We plan to reach more patients and educate them about their medications,” Malone said.