Pharmacist-Hospitalist Collaboration Can Improve Care, Save Money


A healthy collaboration between hospitalists and pharmacists can generate cost savings and promote positive outcomes, such as preventing adverse drug events and improving care transitions, says Jonathan Edwards, PharmD, BCPS, a clinical pharmacy specialist at Huntsville Hospital in Alabama.

At the 2012 national conference of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy in Hollywood, Fla., Edwards presented a poster that detailed the effectiveness of such interdisciplinary collaboration at Huntsville Hospital, where pharmacists and physicians developed six order sets, a collaborative practice, and a patient interaction program from November 2011 to February 2012. During the study period, researchers documented a total cost savings of $9,825 resulting from 156 patient interventions.

Edwards’ collaborative study at Huntsville started with two physicians who had launched a service teaching hospitalists what pharmacists do, and how they could help in their efforts.

“We got together and developed an order set for treating acute alcohol withdrawal. That went well, so we did five more order sets,” Edwards says. “Then we thought: What if pharmacists got more involved by meeting directly with patients in the hospital to optimize their medication management and help them reach their goals for treatment? We now evaluate patients on the hospitalist service in three units.”

For Edwards, key factors that make the hospitalist-pharmacist relationship work include communicating the pharmacist’s availability to help with the hospitalist’s patients, identifying the physician’s openness to help, and clarifying how the physician prefers to be contacted.

Last October, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) recognized eight care-transitions programs for best practices that improved patient outcomes and reduced hospital readmissions as part of the Medication Management in Care Transitions (MMCT) Project.

“The MMCT project highlights the valuable role pharmacists can play in addressing medication-related problems that can lead to hospital readmissions,” APhA chief executive officer Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, said in a news release. “By putting together these best practices, our goal is to provide a model for better coordination of care and better connectivity between pharmacists and healthcare providers in different practice settings that leads to improved patient health.”

Visit our website for more information about maximizing patient care through pharmacist-hospitalist collaboration.

Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in Oakland, Calif.

Articles first published in the Jan. 16, 2013, edition of The Hospitalist eWire.

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