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Improved adherence, med management can reduce hospital re-admissions, healthcare group says


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Improving medication adherence may be the key to reducing hospital re-admission rates, according to a new issue brief by a health policy research organization.

NEHI issued the brief Friday, saying that incorporating medication adherence policies into discharge planning was important as earlier this month, hospitals began facing federal penalties for Medicare patients re-admitted for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia within 30 days of discharge. Hospital re-admissions cost the healthcare system $25 billion per year, while medication nonadherence costs $290 billion, according to NEHI research.

Successful new models of advanced discharge planning and transitional care, NEHI said, include accountability for medication-related tasks in which care coordinators own the medication-management process; teamwork to coordinate professionals inside and outside the hospital; medication reconciliation for medications patients might be taking that hospital staff don't know about; direct engagement with patients and caregivers; and follow-ups with patients after discharge.

"Medication management and improved adherence are critical tools for lowering readmissions," NEHI executive director Valerie Fleischman said. "And new models of hospital discharge planning are showing the way."

Earlier this week, Walgreens announced WellTransitions, which brings together the retailer, hospitals and health systems in a coordinated care model designed to reduce re-admissions through MTM and improvements to adherence.

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