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CVS: Rx reconciliation can cut hospital readmissions

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Foundation funds effort highlighting hazard of secondhand smoke to youth

WOONSOCKET, R.I. —Medication reconciliation programs can help patients avoid hospital readmission and, in turn, unnecessary health care costs, according to a study from the CVS Health Research Institute.

Also this week, the CVS Health Foundation announced a new grant to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help improve counseling by pediatric health care providers about tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke.

CVS said the new research, published Thursday in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs, is the first to assess the impact of an insurer-supported medication reconciliation program on clinical outcomes and health care spending.

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Troyen Brennan

The study analyzed hospital readmissions of more than 260 national health plan members hospitalized over a five-month period. Researchers compared readmission rates for patients enrolled in a medication reconciliation program upon hospital discharge with a control group of members who received no additional support after their initial hospital stay. Those enrolled in the program received an initial in-home or telephone consultation based on their readmission risk and were offered ongoing phone support for the first 30 days after discharge.

During the initial consultations, pharmacists compared members’ pre- and post- hospitalization medication regimens; identified discrepancies, redundancies and safety concerns; and provided education and support regarding medication use and adherence, CVS said. The researchers found that risk of hospital readmission at 30 days was reduced by half, lowering the overall risk of hospital readmission from 22% to 11% for those in the medication reconciliation program.

The health plan also saved $2 for each $1 spent on the program, for a total savings of more than $1,300 per member.

“After leaving the hospital people are especially vulnerable and are often dealing with complex and changing care regimens, which can result in high rates of medication nonadherence and increased risk for costly and unnecessary readmissions,” Troyen Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CVS Health, said in a statement. “In fact, adverse drug events, often attributable to medication nonadherence, are associated with the majority of hospital readmissions. This research shows that programs that provide patients with additional support from a pharmacist can help improve health outcomes and save payers and patients money.”

According to CVS, an estimated one in seven patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and readmissions are associated with more than $41 billion in additional health care costs per year. CVS said evidence also indicates that about 66% of hospital readmissions stem from adverse health events related to medication noncompliance.

“The research found that the positive effects of the pharmacist consultation on reducing readmission rates, and costs were similar whether the consultation was conducted via an in-home visit from a pharmacist or over the telephone, when the intensity of the intervention was tailored to members’ risk,” Brennan added. “These results demonstrate that there is an opportunity for payers to consider adopting programs that provide pharmacist support and counseling by phone as a cost-efficient way to help improve medication adherence and health outcomes for their vulnerable populations.”

Meanwhile, CVS said Thursday that the American Academy of Pediatrics program will provide clinicians with the messages, tools and counseling protocols needed to screen for secondhand smoke exposure and better prepare them to speak with parents and families about the need to reduce tobacco use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 41% of children ages 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke, which even at brief levels can be harmful to a person’s health, CVS reported.

Pursuing a further reduction in tobacco use and nicotine addiction among young people and increasing access to smoke-free environments continues to be a priority for many Americans, as evidenced by the results of

Of about 2,000 registered voters in a new CVS Health/Morning Consult poll, 86% said they think it’s important to reduce youth smoking rates, and 37% said they’re so concerned about exposure to secondhand smoke that they seek out smoke-free locations when they leave their homes.

“With an alarming number of children still being exposed to secondhand smoke every day, working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to help educate physicians and parents and help curb exposure is an important step in our efforts to help deliver the first tobacco-free generation,” stated Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation. “We’re honored to be working with this respected organization that has demonstrated success in helping to increase education and awareness around the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Plans call for the AAP will hold two in-person training sessions this year for pediatricians and other child health clinicians, who act as the primary source of medical information for parents. A $110,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation to AAP will cover the costs of the meetings, which will feature content produced by the AAP, CVS said.

Each session will help health care professionals implement proven ways to counsel parents on the importance of quitting smoking and the use of other tobacco products and how to ensure all places where children spend time are smoke-and tobacco-free. Along with in-person training sessions, participants will be provided with user-friendly tools, such as online resources and other content.


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