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New Initiatives Aim to Improve Patient Care

Published on 01 December 2014

This year St. Louis College of Pharmacy and the BJC Accountable Care Organization (ACO) entered into an agreement to help find ways for older adults to better manage their medications. Terry Seaton, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacy practice, is working with ACO medical director Douglas Pogue, M.D., on the hospital’s most complex cases.

“This is an innovative approach to improving patient care delivery,” Seaton says. “New health care models demand pharmacists become medication managers for their patients.”

Working together, Seaton and Pogue review patient records from several hospitals in the BJC health system with the primary goal of reducing the number of hospital readmissions. Seaton says older adults are most at risk for readmission to the hospital. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one in five Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized are readmitted less than a month after discharge.

“Pharmacists are in the position to detect medication issues with the primary purpose of improving patient care and safety,” Seaton says. “Our focus is on optimal medication use and medication adherence.”

Detecting medication problems is also one of the primary goals of the College’s transitions of care research. The concept covers patient movements into, out of, and around hospitals, skilled-care facilities, and home. Whether the patient is moving from one part of the hospital to another or being discharged, Seaton says each transition presents challenges to maintain patient care but also opportunities to improve it. Seaton and Tricia Berry, Pharm.D., professor and department chair of pharmacy practice, have partnered with several health care and research institutions to create a transitions of care model that focuses on pharmacists’ roles in improving care.

“Whether it is transitions of care or prevention of hospital readmissions in an ACO, the key is communication,” Seaton says. “It’s important to remember that the conversations happening between pharmacists, physicians, nurses and other health care team members also need to include the patient or the caregiver.”

The BJC ACO was the first ACO established in St. Louis. Becker’s Hospital Review also named it one of “The Top 100 Accountable Care Organizations to Know.”

“Going forward, this collaboration has the opportunity to grow research and scholarship at the College,” Seaton says.

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