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Patients being discharged from the University of South Alabama Medical Center or USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital now can have prescriptions filled and delivered to their bedside before they leave the hospital.
“It’s an awesome added convenience for our patients,” says Tina Taylor, director of care management at USA Medical Center.
Working in partnership with Walgreens, patients can opt to have their going-home prescriptions delivered to the commercial pharmacy, filled and dropped off in their hospital rooms with information about how to take the drugs, avoiding an additional stop at the drugstore on the way home.
If it’s after normal business hours or on the weekend, the prescriptions are sent to a nearby Walgreens store and patients can use the drive-thru to pick them up.
“It’s such a great convenience,” says Taylor, “especially for our trauma patients who may be in a wheelchair or cast.”
Besides saving time, the Walgreens service provides valuable insurance and copay assistance that may be even more important, says Denise Anderson, director of Care Management at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.
Consider Zyvox, a useful antibiotic in the pediatric drug arsenal. The co-pay can be a staggering $1,000. The pharmaceutical company issued a coupon to help defray the cost, but only for patients older than 18.
When the cost issue was brought to their attention, the Walgreens team got on the phone to the drug maker, Anderson says. Not only did the pharmaceutical house honor the coupon for children, they provided the drug to a very needy patient with no co-pay. And they agreed to allow every USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital patient requiring Zyvox to take advantage of the single coupon.
With the Walgreens program, complicated insurance questions can be settled before discharge, rather than standing in a check out line while comforting a sick child. Likewise, the complex business of insurance pre-authorization can likely be handled in advance.
“It’s not a panacea,” says Anderson. Most people still have to pay co-pays. But she’s confident that if there’s help available for the patients, Walgreens will help them find it.
Walgreens has been offering its bedside delivery program for the past few years, says Sarah Gaudet, a certified senior pharmacy technician and bedside delivery staff member with the drug store chain. Gaudet is assigned to USA Children’s & Women’s and works daily with patients, nurses, physicians and other staff.
More than any program she’s ever helped initiate, says Anderson, this one wins the most adulation from staff. “I’m often told, ‘I don’t know what we did before.’”
The program started at USA Children’s and Women’s about a year ago and has now been expanded to USA Medical Center.
“Most patients want to use the service because it’s so much easier on them,” says Taylor. But no patient is required to participate, she says. It’s just an added convenience if they want it.
Doctors and nurses are relieved when patients opt in, Anderson says, because they know it’s more likely that they will get and use the medication. There’s no risk that their usual pharmacy is closed or unable to supply the needed drug; no risk of skipping the drug store stop because they or their child feel too crummy to bother.
Walgreens will also fill routine prescriptions for hospital staff members and bring them to the individual’s workstation.
Even though patients and staff members alike can transfer the prescription elsewhere at any time, Walgreens banks on the idea that their excellent customer services during trying times will win loyalty — and continued business — from those they help.
“Statistics show that patients with medications in hand when they leave the hospital are more likely to take them," Anderson said. "That cuts the risk of readmission so that hospitals avoid penalties. And even more important, it helps the patients make the best possible recovery.”
© 2018 USA Health System