Thursday, February 12, 2009

Medication Database Progressing

The University of Connecticut, School of Pharmacy received a $781,000 grant to build an electronic medication information exchange for the state. The pilot was funded as part of a $5 million grant that the Connecticut Department of Social Services received from CMS.

The Pharmacy faculty, the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, and a newly created network of Connecticut pharmacists are going to use the funds to develop comprehensive medication profiles for 1,000 Connecticut Medicaid patients. The idea is to develop a pilot program to provide medication therapy management for 200 of the Medicaid patients.

The pilot program will determine how well pharmacist-led medication management and adherence programs can work in the state and how pharmacists can assist the state in developing a comprehensive electronic health and medication information exchange database.

The database will contain all of a patient’s pharmacy insurance claims, medication prescription records, lab test data, notes on potential medication allergies, over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and past medication adherence rates. The electronic health information will be available to any licensed healthcare professional seeing the patient at a hospital emergency room, clinic, pharmacy, or other healthcare locations.

Medication therapy management is a relatively new concept that has been proven successful in other areas where it has been implemented. In the late 1990s, two employers in Asheville, North Carolina, the municipal government, and Mission-St. Joseph’s Health System started a pilot program where specially trained pharmacists held face-to-face meetings with employees with diabetes to educate and motivate them to better manage their condition and medications.

As a result, participating employees visited local hospital emergency departments at a rate one-third of the national average. The employers direct medical costs declined in the range of $1,622 to $3,356 per participant, and one employer had an average reduction in program participant sick days of 41 percent.

In a separate project dealing with employees with hypertension and dyslipidemia (disruption in the amount of fat molecules in the blood, including high cholesterol levels), those employees participating in medication therapy management program saw their blood pressure drop. In addition, the percentage of patients meeting their blood pressure goals increased from 40.2 percent to 67.4 percent. Employees also saw reductions in the so-called bad cholesterol with medication use increasing three-fold while related medical costs decreased by 46.5 percent.

“The School of Pharmacy believes that the pharmacist-led medication management and adherence programs would be beneficial not to just the 200 Medicaid patients in the pilot project but eventually to all the residents of Connecticut,” according to Professor Marie Smith, head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Principal Investigator for the project. She continued to say “This project will also highlight the value of pharmacists as trained medication experts in the management of patient healthcare.”