Pharmacist Digital Pharmacy

How Pharmacists Can Leverage Technology For Medication Reconciliation And Virtual Patient Care

Authored by Ken Dandurand R.Ph and Varun Goyal M.S,, M.B.A. 

Pharmacists play a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem, and can work with other health professionals to contribute to positive patient outcomes. This relationship is especially true when pharmacists can leverage technology to provide ongoing patient empowerment, support, and education to reduce the risk of adverse events from prescribed medications. Given that only 12% of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy, most patients need daily reminders on when, how, and which medications to take to ensure treatment plan compliance.

There are critical moments throughout a patient’s time in the healthcare system that are referred to as a “transition of care,” wherein care coordination and ensuring patients are on the correct medications is very important. These times include discharges from a hospital and transfers to a nursing home or home health scenario, among others. Accurate medication lists and effective communication between stakeholders during these moments are especially important for preventing medication errors while patient care is transitioning from one care team to another. In these scenarios, a pharmacist can work with the discharge nurse to ensure the patient is discharged with an accurate and up-to-date med list, and onboard the patient to a technology platform like a mobile app for medication management. It is estimated that the medication adherence rate is only 50% in patients with chronic conditions while more than 80% is needed for optimal results, and by leveraging technology to improve medication clarity and adherence, pharmacists can promote positive patient outcomes and compliance.

As noted by the Pharmacy Times, Medication Reconciliation (MR) is crucial when it comes to creating “an accurate list and eliminate any potentially harmful discrepancies,” and virtual medication management tools can help catalyze MR and make it easier to manage. Simultaneously, digital health tools can empower consumers to meaningfully engage with their healthcare team to optimize their health, control cost, and provide valuable insights and analytics for pharmacy teams. For example, by leveraging technology in their workflow, Mednovate pharmacists were able to track that 79% of patients required changes in medications (during transition in care) at an estimated cost saving of $1,900 per patient per year. These analytics are not only helpful for pharmacists as they try to drive deeper insights into care costs and savings, but demonstrate a gap in the care system that virtual medication management systems can fill to improve patient outcomes. Optimized medication management means that patients can effectively and safely stay on their treatment plans, leading to better metrics and results for associated medication providers as well.

 

Additionally, leveraging technology can lead to increased productivity and efficiency for pharmacy teams as digital healthcare tools enable the automation of routine tasks and added convenience for communication with patients and coordinating care. Ultimately, this means that pharmacists and nurses can spend more time on other tasks, and manage their time more efficiently. For example, illuminate.health gathers real-time, self-reported symptoms and offers video communication and secure chat for patients and health professional team members, including the pharmacist, which enable all stakeholders to encourage patient treatment plan compliance and reduce the change of adverse events due to medication complication. Technology solutions also enable easier data sharing and connectivity to various systems from EMR, to pharmacy systems for dispensing, to claims adjudication, and more. Aggregating information on a patient to get a comprehensive view is very important as is utilizing technology to analyze the data for key insights for care decision making; this can help prevent potential adverse events arising from drug-drug interactions, or therapeutic duplication.

With technology like illuminate.health helping the patient stay on top of their medications and care plan, one can expect less clinician and pharmacist time needed per case, while simultaneously contributing to improved patient outcomes. Technology solutions can bridge the gaps between patients, caregivers, clinicians, and pharmacists when it comes to medication management and treatment plan compliance. This combination provides real-time continuous management of drug therapy, resulting in improved patient outcomes, which goes a long way in creating peace of mind and being more empowered for self care.

Ken Dandurand Bio

Kenneth Dandurand is Co-Founder and CEO of Clinical Pharmacy Associates, Inc. and Co- Founder and President of MedNovations, where he leads efforts to improve the quality of medication use. He also serves as a board member for the Autism/Aspergers Network (AANE). He received his B.S. in Pharmacy from Northeastern University, Boston, and completed graduate training (M.S.) in hospital pharmacy and business management from Oregon State University including an ASHP-approved residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon. His clinical pharmacy experience in community, hospital, and managed care settings includes roles as leader of the pediatric OB/GYN satellite pharmacy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Director of the Pharmacy Department of Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington, D.C. He has served on national pharmacy and therapeutics committees for Blue Cross Blue Shield FEP, Rx Management and Pharmacy Direct Network.

Varun Goyal Bio

Varun Goyal is the CEO and Co-Founder of illuminate.Health, a digital health startup helping patients and family caregivers optimize medication therapies supported via telehealth. The organization has a mission to be the digital care assistant to help people with self-care at home where the majority of healthcare happens.
Mr. Goyal is a healthcare technology executive with 18+ years of consulting, product management and strategy experience. He has held global leadership roles with Availity, Hill-Rom, Oracle, and Motorola. Mr. Goyal holds a B.S., Computer Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, M.S. Computer Science from the University of Chicago, and an MBA in Healthcare, Strategy, and Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.