Saturday, August 30, 2014

MediCenter Pharmacies, Reid partner to better manage patient care

A new partnership between MediCenter Pharmacies, a group of community retail stores owned by pharmacists, and Reid is an example of a continuing major shift by caregivers nationally to better manage community health while reducing costs for providers and patients.

“A focus for Reid and other hospitals and health systems is that we have to better manage the health of our patients across the ‘continuum of care’, and not simply when someone is in the hospital,” said Brad Hester, Director of Pharmacy Services at Reid. While some of the changes are driven by how providers will be reimbursed for care, Hester noted that the overall goal is to have a team approach in the care for the community.

“It is not enough to just provide good care when someone is the hospital, or for a pharmacist to help ensure someone takes their medicine correctly, or for a physician office to treat someone episodically when they happen to come to an appointment,” he said. “Now, we all must become partners to help make sure we are working together to keep our community as healthy as possible.”

The goal of the MediCenter Pharmacy and Reid partnership, approved this week by the Reid Governing Board, is to better manage compliance by patients with their medicines, said Dr. Tom Huth, Reid Vice President/Director of Medical Affairs. “Medication programs have been shown to be critical to patients for maintaining good health,” Huth said. “Pharmacists work with patients to ensure medications are used as prescribed and provide patient education. Most importantly, they get to work directly with other caregivers to build relationships that are designed to achieve optimum health for patients.”

The shift to population health management is one result of the Affordable Care Act, which puts an emphasis on hospitals playing a larger role in community health by helping to manage care beyond the health system’s campus. “So, health care organizations are working to structure their care to include all aspects of a patient’s life, through partnerships with other providers, pharmacies, and anyone who can have an impact on community wellness,” Hester said.

Currently, MediCenter Pharmacies are operating in Cambridge City and Liberty. Cambridge City MediCenter Pharmacy, owned and operated by Ken Newton, is inside Cutshaw’s Market. Liberty MediCenter Pharmacy, owned and operated by the husband-wife pharmacy team of Dave and Peggy Rokosz, is in Woodruff’s Supermarket. MediCenter Pharmacies jointly owned by the Newtons, Rokosz’ and veteran pharmacy executive Don Schreiber have plans to expand in the Richmond and Connersville markets with Reid to better service patients and employees.

Newton and Dave and Peggy Rokosz are all long-time residents and pharmacists in and around Wayne County. They have multiple decades of experience owning their own pharmacies and are well-respected and trusted by their patients, Hester said.

Newton said he sees communication as key in the effort. “When a person comes out of the hospital or physician office, we will have a more direct communication about what they are taking. We can counsel these patients and make sure they are compliant with their medicines. Communication is a big deal,” he said, noting that patients who do not take medicines correctly are more likely to develop complications that might result in setbacks.

Dave Rokosz said the partnership aims to improve monitoring of overall patient care to help prevent complications and improve outcomes. In a normal pharmacy setting, he only sees a prescription. “We don’t always know the diagnosis,” he said, citing the example of medicines like prednisone that could be used for numerous conditions. “We will be more aware of their disease and can do a better job communicating with them about what a medicine will do for them based on their diagnosis,” he said.

James Bertsch, D.O., Cambridge City Family Medicine, said he sees patients almost daily who may not be managing their medications properly. Sometimes it can be a financial issue and others may have let some of the disclaimers that come with prescriptions scare them – they stop taking the medicine but do not communicate their concerns to the pharmacist or their doctor. “Any disease process certainly worsens quicker if the patient does not take their medicine,” he said. “Then they don’t have control of their heart disease, diabetes or other condition and all the complications that could ensue probably will.”

Dr. Bertsch said he is looking forward to an improved process of communication concerning the care of his patients. “I think the more information each caregiver has, the better the quality and continuity of care.”

Scott Marsteller, M.D., of Hagerstown Family Practice, said medication issues are also common with his patients. One example is confusion that can come with certain medications that may be mainly used for one problem but can also help with another. “Sometimes we use antidepressants as a chronic pain treatment, for example,” he said. If the pharmacist does not know that or the patient misunderstands, they may decide on their own not to use the medicine “because they are not depressed” and not get the pain relief benefit he intends.

Hester said the partnership follows a historically cooperative relationship with the pharmacy partners and Reid. “We all share a commitment to customer service,” he said.

Hester said that historically, hospitals have been procedure and illness driven. The changing model of care incorporates physicians and other caregivers to more of an outpatient focus, working to keep patients well rather than responding when they are sick.

“Adding an outpatient pharmacist component is another addition to the changing face of the health care team,” he said. “And this represents the shift from what is called ‘pay for performance’ to a ‘population health management’ model of care.”

The partnership will be celebrated in an open house from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, at Cambridge City MediCenter Pharmacy in Cutshaw’s Market. The event will include free health screenings and giveaways. Future events are also being planned in Liberty.

MediCenter Pharmacy services include compounding, auto refills, free delivery service; “synchronizing,” where all medications are filled at one time reducing trips for the patient; “dose packaging,” which puts medicines taken at the same time together for patients on multiple medications; and hands-on medication management. They share Reid’s vision of focusing on patient care across the continuum.

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