In-home pharmacist MTM program to expand

February 29, 2016

After a successful medication therapy management (MTM) pilot program involving home visits from pharmacists to reduce hospital readmissions, healthcare executives would like to expand the program.

After a successful medication therapy management (MTM) pilot program involving home visits from pharmacists to reduce hospital readmissions, healthcare executives would like to expand the program.

Dan RehrauerBloomington, Minn.-based HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit healthcare organization, which provides health insurance and healthcare services, started the pilot project in 2014. The MTM home visit program focused on elderly patients with serious, chronic illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease, who take multiple medications and are unable to leave their homes.

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“We are happy with the results,” said Dan Rehrauer, senior manager of HealthPartners’ MTM program, noting that hospital readmissions were prevented and reduced. “Our biggest challenge is identifying who these people are [patients who need services the most] in a timely manner, and getting them engaged in the program as well as they can.”

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Patients who chose to participate in the program were visited by a clinical pharmacist within a week after leaving Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. During the visit, the pharmacist reviewed medications, helped the patient understand how to take medications as prescribed, and evaluated whether there were safety risks in the home.

There is no charge to patients for the visits. “As a health plan, we pay for MTM services through a network through our state,” Rehrauer said. In addition to home visits, Health Partners’ 850,000 members can receive MTM services over the phone, via the internet, or in-person.

The cost of In-home pharmacy services

HealthPartners executives are still evaluating the cost of providing in-home pharmacy services compared to the reduction in hospital readmissions.

 

“It is expensive to send a pharmacist out to someone’s home…and we are seeing patients who have very complex [medical histories],” Rehrauer said. “However, I am very confident…that it is going to be cost effective to do this. We are keeping people from going back to the hospital – not just for readmission, but we prevent them from ever going in the first place.”

Patients who participated in the in-home MTM services were a “small population” who have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage and were enrolled in HealthPartner’s Integrated Home Care Management program. Typically, the patients were taking between 10 and 15 different medications each.