The rise of polypharmacy in home health patients requires a data-driven approach to medication management. Advanced analytics are crucial to understand complex patient needs and improve patient outcomes.
Taking medications as prescribed is one of the most important predictors of positive outcomes for home health patients. With so many outcomes directly tied to medication nonadherence – adverse drug events, unplanned hospital admissions, and debilitating falls, to name a few – home health providers are often called upon to ensure that their patients and caregivers understand complex medication routines, have access to all required prescriptions, and faithfully follow their regimens.
Home health patients are particularly vulnerable to nonadherence. While caregivers and home health aides do spend significant amounts of time with their patients, they cannot supervise them every hour of the day. Further, many patients must manage multiple chronic conditions treated by several specialists and providers, resulting in an ever-growing list of prescriptions that are regularly combined with over-the-counter medications.
This problem is so pronounced that a recent systematic review indicated that the prevalence of medication nonadherence in elderly home health patients is significantly higher than in the general population at 38.6 percent, for a median prevalence of 43.2 percent. However, research has shown that compliance packaging, when combined with regular follow-ups and education, can increase medication adherence rates to 97%.
By partnering with a data-driven telepharmacy to conduct regular, targeted outreach to higher risk patients, home health providers can stay on top of medication adherence, resulting in better retention, patient satisfaction, and other performance metrics as they support ongoing adherence for their high-risk, high-acuity patients.
To be effective, however, these interactions must be more than robotic reminders to fill lapsed medications. Telepharmacy staff need data-based tools to establish meaningful relationships that empower patients and their caregivers with the knowledge and tools they need to maintain safe, accurate medication routines.
There is only one way to achieve this goal: telepharmacies must be equipped with accurate, personalized, data-driven insights about every patient. Home health providers can only keep their patients safe and healthy at home with comprehensive support from licensed pharmacists who have the insights and tools needed to synchronize medication routines, coordinate across care teams, proactively identify and resolve DTPs, conduct regular medication reviews, and address the complex clinical and non-clinical challenges that often lead to costly patient complications.
The data to drive patient-centric telepharmacy services
Actionable insights are built upon rich, multi-source data that create a comprehensive portrait of a patient’s medical history, present circumstances, and future risks. This comprehensive view is especially important for elderly patients whose care is often spread across multiple providers and specialists.
To assemble this view, data-driven telepharmacies need to combine standard clinical, claims and prescription drug data with less traditional data streams, including information on social determinants of health (SDOH).
Pharmacy experts can use this information to synchronize patient medication regimens, evaluate whether a patient is being overprescribed, and recommend changes to medications that may pose unnecessary risks.
A truly data-driven pharmacy can take this a step further and inform families of available health plan benefits, refer them to community-based resources through networks such as FindHelp.org, and prioritize complex patients for future follow-up to ensure their medication management needs are met.
A telepharmacy platform with the ability to collect standardized data on common socioeconomic challenges can provide invaluable assistance to patients and caregivers who may struggle to afford the services they need to provide the quality of life their loved ones deserve.
These interventions can reduce the pressure patients and their families often place on home health providers to manage all aspects of patient care when all their time and attention is often required simply to provide the direct physical care and support their patients need.
Taking a holistic, data-first approach to identifying potential risks and challenges can further personalize interactions, dissolve medication access barriers, dramatically boost patient satisfaction and measurably improve overall quality of life.
Telepharmacy partnerships keep patient care standards consistent
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many home health agencies were regularly forced to stretch their staff to the limit to provide the care complex patients require. These staffing challenges have only become more acute as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the vulnerable populations that rely on home health to maintain their independence.
Unfortunately, turnover is increasingly common in home health agencies: the national average turnover rate for RNs rose 11.7 percent from 2019 to 2021, while the average turnover rate for home care aides rose from 36.5 percent in 2020 to 38.1 percent in 2021. These trends have continued despite significant increases in hourly wages and expanded benefits.
High turnover rates frequently disrupt complex care routines, placing vulnerable patients at risk for multiple functional, cognitive, and medication-related challenges. Digital pharmacies, which use near-real time claims analysis to detect changes in patient prescriptions and provide next-day delivery of the updated medications, can provide an important buffer for these patients and their caregivers.
Further, a digital pharmacist with access to comprehensive, accurate patient information can play an important role in supporting a new or returning home health aide, providing the knowledge and support they need to properly track and administer medications to their patients.
This level of specialized support is not possible without accurate, holistic patient data; the resources to synchronize medications and deliver them to the patient’s doorstep; and the knowledge and training of licensed pharmacists. Home health providers should ensure that their digital pharmacy partners can provide all three to ensure the long-term success of their patients, and their business.