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Study highlights benefits of pharmacist-led teams
Program cut costs, improved patient outcomes
A Northwestern Ohio health system achieved successful outcomes in improving health, increasing patient satisfaction, and cutting costs by involving pharmacists in a patient care team model, a new study reports.
Blanchard Valley Health System in Findlay, OH, has developed a business model that involves having health-system pharmacists provide medication therapy management (MTM) services to employees with chronic diseases. The study focused on improving patients' lipid levels, reaching HbA level goals, and reducing weight when needed.1
A large employer with more than 2,100 employees, Blanchard Valley Health System opened its Center for Medication Management in 2003 as part of pharmacy services, focusing initially on anticoagulation therapy. Eventually it was expanded to provide disease management, wellness and prevention services, diabetes education, and smoking cessation services.1
Pharmacists assess patients for medication problems, help monitor their laboratory values, and provide counseling and education.1
The center also reached out to local business leaders about contracting for the center to provide medication therapy management services with pharmacist involvement. The center's business model involves directly contracting with businesses' benefits department for both wellness and MTM sessions, as well as an ongoing condition care program.1
Seven hospital pharmacists provide the wellness and MTM screenings, and three pharmacists are involved in the ongoing condition care program. Also, pharmacists are involved in the program's overall operation and perform all technical functions except phlebotomy.1
The study showed that patient satisfaction has been high overall with 99.7% of respondents saying they would recommend these services to others and 98% saying it was a good use of their time.1
The program saved health plan payers $253 per patient per year for 216 patients. The cost savings was related to medication therapy changes recommended by pharmacists. This amounted to a $2.21 return on investment for every $1 spent. And the combined direct and indirect cost savings averaged $1,011 per patient each year.1
Also clinical outcomes indicated an overall improvement in patient care, including a statistically significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels for all patients and an even greater reduction in LDL cholesterol levels for diabetic patients.1
There also was a significant reduction in body fat percentage and 16% of patients had a weight loss of 10 pounds or more. There was not a significant difference in HbA levels.1
The Center for Medication Management's services differs from other employer wellness programs because of its use of a pharmacist as a primary gatekeeper. Also pharmacists provide medication review and face-to-face education with patients.1