Adding a Pharmacist to a Medical Home May Cut Costs

November/December 2010, Vol 3, No 6 - Conference Highlights AMCP

Preliminary research on incorporating a clinical pharmacist specialist into a team managing a patient­centered medical home (PCMH) shows an emerging body of evidence to support the integration of these spe­cialists, and the potential for cost­savings once these caregivers are added to the team.

The researchers note that there is currently no stan­dard guideline for determining clinical pharmacist spe­cialist staffing needs or responsibilities in the PCMH model, and so they reviewed the published literature on PCMH pilot programs with available outcomes. The ultimate goal was to analyze the impact of clinical phar­macy services and potential cost­savings associated with implementing a PCMH model at the Kansas City VA Medical Center (KCVA).

The literature review revealed positive contributions of a clinical pharmacist specialist in prescreenings, fol­low­up care, and disease management. Outcome meas­ures included reductions in emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and total per­patient cost­savings.

The pharmacy leadership at KCVA determined nec­essary staffing levels and clinical pharmacist specialist procedures and responsibilities. Clinical pharmacist specialist responsibilities focused on identifying patients at high risk for poor medication­related out­comes and working with patients in need of improved continuity of care.

  • Potential cost­savings for KCVA extrapolated from the literature/data review were:
  • $6 million­$12 million in hospitalizations
  • $1 million­$8 million in emergency department visits
  • $630,000­$24 million in total patient costs.

A 1­year evaluation of the PCMH program at this institution will commence in the coming year.

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Last modified: December 23, 2010
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