The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.

 

The Expanding Role of Pharmacists: Out of the Basement and Into the Spotlight

By Truven Staff
Tina Moen imageWhat does it mean to be a pharmacist in 2014? I recently presented at the to a room full of pharmacy leaders from across the country. We discussed the evolution of the practice of pharmacy, the things we have seen change over the years, and the opportunities (and challenges) we see on the horizon. Throughout the conference, many attendees shared stories of how their responsibilities as a pharmacist have evolved throughout their careers. Our conclusion is that now – more than ever – there are visible, meaningful changes to our role as it relates to patient care, collaboration with our peers, and in leadership participation in the healthcare community.

Clinical pharmacy services, as we know it, are a result of continuous evolution of the historical pharmacy role – namely dispensing medications from behind the counter or in the basement. This evolution has taken many years. Pharmacists now deliver enhanced value to their organizations and their patients with a focus on quality, safety, and efficacy of medication therapies. Programs such as enhanced Medication Therapy Management continue to highlight the impact pharmacists can make on reducing adverse effects and improving efficacy of a patient’s medication regimen. Additionally, pharmacists contributing to Medication Reconciliation and specialty services, like Anticoagulation or Diabetes Clinics, continue to demonstrate that rounding out the care team to include a medication specialist improves patient outcomes and enhances the practice and performance of clinical peers. And recently, I have seen emerging cross-functional leadership teams working toward goals such as the IHI “Triple AIM,” begin to include Pharmacy; tying personal goals and incentives for DOPs to these efficiency and quality objectives.

Clearly, great progress has been made in the practice of pharmacy, and I for one am proud of the role pharmacists play in enhancing the patient experience and outcomes. So, what's next? Here are the things that come to mind when I ask myself this question.

Healthcare IT
A recent article in advocated for pharmacists playing a larger role in EHR strategy. As a pharmacist who works within the healthcare IT industry, I couldn’t agree more. What percentage of patients in a hospital has at least ONE medication order? I would venture to say “most.” It’s an obvious conclusion that the profession charged with the safe and effective use of medications should have a significant role in the development, selection, and implementation of tools used to properly care for those patients. And then there is Meaningful Use. How many of the Meaningful Use Objectives are related to medications and the services in which pharmacists participate? Who better then to take the lead in organizational efforts for Stage II attestation and Stage III planning?

Care Collaboration
Cross-departmental coordination for initiatives that span hospital leadership continues to grow in scope and importance. Benefits of pharmacists as integral members of rounding teams within the inpatient setting are . With organizations designing and implementing Population Health and ACO strategies, pharmacy leaders can capitalize on the combination of data analytics and clinical insight that are the hallmarks of pharmacy practice. As Population Health initiatives evolve – who better than a pharmacist to guide trends in medication recommendations in treating high-risk conditions and ensuring safe, cost-conscious practice remains top of mind?

Quality Patient Care
Providing quality patient care has always been a focus of healthcare providers. Today’s environment adds a variety of incentives and penalties to drive quality. How are pharmacists contributing? In many ways! Pharmacists are well-suited to lead the charge on initiatives like Antimicrobial Stewardship, a quality and a cost management initiative. The importance of medication education and adherence in the improvement of HCAHPS scores and the reduction of readmissions are additional examples how pharmacists can and should use their skills as medication specialists to drive improved patient care. Because results summaries from nation-wide HCAHPS surveys indicate that Medication Safety and Pain Management questions are still amongst the lowest performing areas – shouldn’t pharmacists’ input at the patient care level be paramount?

As I said during my visit to Health Connect Partners, it’s good to look back occasionally to see the progress that has been made and to help motivate us for the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. What is next? What have I missed? I would love to hear from my fellow pharmacists on where the practice of pharmacy will be in the next 10 years. What are you doing today to move the needle in the evolution of pharmacy?

Tina Moen, PharmD
Chief Clinical Officer

Factors that Create Lasting Patient Engagement

By Truven Staff
Katie Cornwell imageA in Health Care Finance News examines the important relationship between meaningful patient engagement and a patient’s subsequent adherence to their prescribed treatment and prevention plans, both of which often require a change or changes in patient behavior. Recognizing that patient understanding and engagement are “fundamental prerequisites” to adherence means that sophisticated interventions designed to foster adherence  and behavior change are unlikely to be effective if the patient doesn’t first achieve basic comprehension of the what and the why behind their condition and treatment.

In order to establish that baseline knowledge, providers need to be able to provide information that is personal and meaningful to the patient, at that specific point in their care.  Instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach, they need to be able to tailor their education to the unique details of that patient’s current status, diagnosis, and care plan, and then deliver it in a method that meets the patient’s learning needs. It should also allow the patient to process the information at his or her own pace—and refer back to it when needed. When patients are presented with information that is both meaningful and manageable, they are much more likely to feel comfortable enough to begin to own it and act on it, and feeling empowered to acting on it is what leads to adherence and real behavior change.

Katie Cornwell
Product Manager, Patient Education Solutions

Patient Activation Matters! Does Your Patient Health Education Solution Engage and Activate?

By Truven Staff
Heather Du Mez imageWith the proliferation of patient health education solutions designed to take patient engagement to the next level, how can you ensure the solution you choose engages your patients and increases their “activation?” Do your patients understand their role in the care process, including the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take on that role?

Research continues to demonstrate that highly activated patients are more likely to have better outcomes:
  • Highly activated patients have lower healthcare costs ()
  • Patients with higher activation levels are more likely to have normal systolic blood pressure, triglyceride and HDL levels, a healthy weight, and less likely to visit the emergency room or become hospitalized ()
  • Highly activated patients have more positive care experiences ()   
At Truven Health Micromedex® Solutions, our collective experience of providing patient education solutions to thousands of hospitals world-wide, has resulted in evidence-based patient health education content that is designed to engage and activate. The content, found in our Micromedex® CareNotes® Solution, adheres to health-literacy standards (written at a 5th-to-7th grade reading level, in plain, easy-to-understand language) and  leverages ADDS (actionable, direct, directive, streamlined) design principles. CareNotes are:
  • Actionable. Instructions emphasize how to complete a task, including crucial details and steps describing the behavior a patient must change, or the actions a patient must perform. 
  • Direct. State information directly and concisely. The message is not complicated with extra words or unnecessary medical terms. 
  • Directive. Tell the patient what to do and what not to do, so the patient is not left to guess whether directions are necessary or merely suggested.
  • Streamlined. Remove information that is not necessary in order to highlight need-to-know information.
This approach is responsive to the research around activation and best represents the needs of our customers to keep their patients actively engaged in their own health care.

What innovations is your hospital or staff making to promote activation and to ensure the patient experience is interactive? What do you think are the most critical imperatives for activation improvement? Post a reply and share your ideas. Sharing our collective experiences is a great way to learn what is and is not working among your peers.

about how our comprehensive editorial process and procedures promote patient activation to improve health literacy, motivate patient behavior, and increase compliance.

Heather Du Mez, RN, BSN
Editorial Manager

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