Boston Medical Center (BMC) physician and pharmacist researchers recently published a new study in which they highlighted the “Meds-in-Hand” program, which was established when doctors realized their pediatric asthma patients who left the hospital with their medications made fewer emergency room visits after they were discharged, compared to those who were discharged and still needed to go to a pharmacy to get their prescription filled.
The study, titled “Increasing Medication Possession at Discharge for Patients with Asthma: The Meds-in-Hand Project,” published in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed the outcome of Meds-in-Hand, a program designed to help simplify the lives of pediatric patients and their families, and also to offer information about how to use the medications appropriately.
The Meds-in-Hand program was conducted by Jonathan Hatoun, M.D., MPH, a former member of BMC’s pediatrics department, and James Moses, M.D., MPH, a pediatrician and associate chief quality officer at BMC. Both are authors of the study. Together with Dr. Megan Bair-Merritt and Dr. Howard Cabral, the group determined that 37 percent of BMC pediatric patients did not get their prescriptions filled in a timely manner after they were discharged from an asthma exacerbation. The group recognized a clear opportunity to improve the hospital’s care service.
A team of pediatricians and pharmacists worked together to remove all barriers to these patients – including not having transportation to the local pharmacy, not having the time to go to the pharmacy, and having active insurance.
After two years, the improvements in the discharge process payed off and Meds-in-Hand has improved the service for 75 percent of the patients — meaning all medications were provided to them before they left the hospital. This success rate was possible due to the implementation of an in-room delivery service on the day the patient was discharged, provided by BMC pharmacists who also helped the patients and their families learn how to effectively use their medication.
The program significantly reduced the odds of an emergency room visit in the month after discharge, and increased prescription refills for participating patients.
“While our study was small, it shows that a fairly simple intervention can be administered by the inpatient team to help decrease future [emergency room] visits for patients with asthma,” Hatoun said in a press release. “We might expect similar results for other diseases, though more studies need to be done.”
Asthma is a common disease estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to affect nearly 235 million children around the globe.