Consulting pharmacists on Maui and Kauai are now helping patients at risk of medication-related hospitalizations and ER visits through Pharm2Pharm, a project from The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
The project, located in the UH Hilo DKICP’s Center for Rural Health Science and led by Karen Pellegrin, launched on Maui in February and on Kauai earlier this month.
Plans are to expand the services to Hawaii Island in June.
Funded by a $14.3 million CMS Health Care Innovation Award, Pellegrin and her team are using a model of care that is designed to improve quality and reduce costs among elderly and others at risk in Hawaii’s rural counties of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii.
“By offering these consulting pharmacist services, we can improve the quality of life for our elderly population,” said Pellegrin, who is director of Strategic Planning and Distance/Continuing Education for DKICP. “In addition, we can make healthcare in Hawaii more sustainable by preventing hospitalizations and ER visits.”
Patients who may benefit from the services are identified by the hospital consulting pharmacists, who begin working with the patients on medication management issues while they are still in the hospital.
At discharge, the patient is formally connected to a community consulting pharmacist, who continues providing medication-management services for a year.
“I have been encouraged by the reaction from the physicians and pharmacists in our rural communities,” Pellegrin said. “Everyone has been extremely positive about this additional patient care.”
Maui-based Anita Ciarleglio and Kauai-based Roy Goo, both assistant professors of pharmacy practice for DKICP, are leading the hospital component of the project.
Additional project partners are: Hawaii Community Pharmacist Association, Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, Hawaii Pacific Health, Hawaii Health Information Exchange, and Hawaii Health Information Corporation.
All consulting pharmacists participating in the Pharm2Pharm service are required to complete an eight-hour continuing education program. Some DKICP student pharmacists are now receiving experiential training, called rotations, using this model.
“The goal of the Pharm2Pharm project is to achieve the three-part aim of the CMS Innovation Center: Better health, better care, lower cost,” Pellegrin said.