When a patient leaves a hospital, they may be in relatively stable condition, but that doesn't mean they no longer require medical assistance. In many cases, patients require medications to stave off infections, relieve pain, and maintain other bodily functions. Filling prescriptions, however, can be very difficult for individuals to obtain just after being discharged. This can increase the chance of readmission, which costs hospitals millions of dollars per year, and reduce the chance of making a full recovery. Meds to Beds may be one solution to this problem.
How Meds to Beds Works
Meds to Beds programs provide hand delivery of prescriptions to patients before they're discharged so that they can easily transition to a more normal routine. While making deliveries, pharmacy staff tell patients how to take their medications and answer any questions that might arise regarding dosage, timing, and combinations. By working with nurses and discharge coordinators, pharmacy staff also eliminate any obstacles that may prevent patients, or their caregivers, from implementing long or short-term care solutions.
A Washington Post article in September of 2017 described how the program affected the life of Larry Greer, a patient at MedStar Washington Hospital Center who suffered severe burns on his legs. Larry, who uses a wheelchair, was worried that he wouldn't be able to fill his prescription for oxycodone after being discharged. Thankfully, a pharmacist counselled him in his room and left a modest supply of the drug at the nurses station for him to pick up when leaving.
The Benefits of Meds to Beds
For many hospitals, maximizing bed capacity is crucial, meaning a lot of pressure can be put on nurses and patients at the time of discharge. Meds to Beds alleviates some of the confusion during this process by ensuring that patients have access to complete and accurate prescriptions. It also means many people who would otherwise leave their prescriptions unfilled get the medicine they need. When patients don't get medications prescribed by their doctor, they're more likely to develop complications which require readmission to the hospital. Data from Kaiser Family Foundation as well as Ohio State University shows that there is a correlation between the Meds to Beds program and lower readmission rates.
According to a survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, about one out of three hospitals currently offer prescriptions directly to patients upon discharge. Experts recommend that healthcare providers new to this type of care approach changes slowly, usually starting with a single department.