Impact of pharmacist intervention in conjunction with outpatient physician follow-up visits after hospital discharge on readmission rate

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2015 Jun 1;72(11 Suppl 1):S36-42. doi: 10.2146/sp150011.


Objective: The Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (MHRRP) which took effect on October 1st, 2012 holds providers accountable for quality of care delivered, placing a greater focus on care coordination. Innovative strategies in medication management in the acute care and outpatient primary care settings require vigilant pharmacist intervention. The objective of this study is to determine if pharmacist-provided medication reconciliation service in conjunction with hospital follow-up outpatient physician visits reduces hospital readmission rate.

Methods: This was a prospective study in which physician-initiated outpatient hospital follow-up appointment scheduling was used to identify patients at time of hospital discharge. All patients ≥50 years of age were eligible for outpatient pharmacist visits. Emergency room visits were excluded. Data collected included: patient demographics, characteristics of identified drug therapy problems, accuracy of outpatient medication histories and time required by pharmacist to perform the reviews. Patient adherence to early (24-72 hours) outpatient hospital follow-up visit was also evaluated. Previous year's readmission data for high risk patients who received only physician visits were also collected for comparison with those who were jointly visited by pharmacists and physicians.

Results: A total of 98 patients were assigned to receive pharmacist intervention in conjunction with physician hospital follow-up visits. Nine of the 98 patients seen by pharmacists at hospital follow-up visits were readmitted (9.2%) to a hospital within 30 days of discharge. Out of the 236 patients seen during the same period the previous year (2011) for physician alone hospital follow-up visits 46 were readmitted (19.4%) within 30-days of hospital discharge. The difference between these groups was statistically significant (p = 0.023), with patients in the pharmacist intervention group experiencing a reduction in 30-day readmission risk. Physician alone outpatient follow-up was associated with earlier mean time to readmission, 12.8 days vs. 18.3 days in the pharmacist intervention group (p = 0.042).

Conclusion: Pharmacist involvement in hospital discharge follow-up visits reduced overall readmission rate in high risk patients and improved monitoring of drug therapy, and medication history accuracy when compared to physician-alone visits.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration*
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Medication Reconciliation / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmacists / organization & administration*
  • Physicians / organization & administration*
  • Professional Role
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Time Factors
  • United States