Pharmacists' recommendations to improve care transitions

Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Sep;46(9):1152-9. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q641. Epub 2012 Aug 7.

Abstract

Background: Increasingly, hospitals are implementing multifaceted programs to improve medication reconciliation and transitions of care, often involving pharmacists.

Objective: To assess pharmacists' views on their roles in hospital-based medication reconciliation and discharge counseling and provide their recommendations for improving care transitions.

Methods: Eleven study pharmacists at 2 hospitals participated in the Pharmacist Intervention for Low Literacy in Cardiovascular Disease (PILL-CVD) study and completed semistructured one-on-one interviews, which were coded systematically in NVivo. Pharmacists provided their perspectives on admission and discharge medication reconciliation, in-hospital patient counseling, provision of simple medication adherence aids (eg, pill box, illustrated daily medication schedule), and telephone follow-up.

Results: Pharmacists indicated that they considered medication reconciliation, although time consuming, to be their most important role in improving care transitions, particularly through detection of errors that required correction in the admission medication history. They also identified patients who required additional counseling because of poor understanding of their medications. Providing adherence aids was felt to be highly valuable for patients with low health literacy, although less useful for patients with adequate health literacy. Pharmacists noted that having trained administrative staff conduct initial postdischarge follow-up calls to screen for issues and triage which patients needed pharmacist follow-up was helpful and an efficient use of resources. Pharmacists' recommendations for improving care transitions included clear communication among team members, protected time for discharge counseling, patient and family engagement in discharge counseling, and provision of patient education materials.

Conclusions: Pharmacists are well positioned to participate in hospital-based medication reconciliation, identify patients with poor medication understanding or adherence, and provide tailored patient counseling to improve transitions of care. Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings in other settings and to determine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of different models of pharmacist involvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals, Teaching / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Medication Reconciliation*
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pharmacists*
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Professional Role