Archive for the ‘Prescription Drugs’ Category

5 Practitioner Tactics for Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

August 15th, 2017 by Susan Butterworth, PhD, and Amanda Sharp, MPH, Q-Consult LLC
opioids

There is promising evidence that motivational interviewing can successfully reduce both the use of non-medical opioid use and overdose risk behaviors for prescription opioids.

Despite evidence and guidelines to the contrary, including significant risk of addiction, there remains a widespread belief among many clinicians and patients alike that opioid medication is a viable and effective first option for multiple chronic pain conditions. Practitioners feel pressure to provide opioids upon patient request, yet many have neither the resources nor the skill set to manage the physiological and psychological complications that can arise when treating a patient with opioids long-term.

As one qualitative study found, it can be awkward at best, and confrontational at worst, when refusing a patient’s request for opioids. Thus, clinicians are faced with the challenging balancing act of providing pain relief for their patients while simultaneously managing the potential for addiction and misuse – with most clinicians ill-equipped for the herculean task.

“Not providing the [opioid] prescription is very hard. It takes time to do the research on the patient. Confronting the patient with a problem is emotionally draining. Doing it 5-10 times in one shift is not only a reality, it is downright crippling. It sucks out [sic] last bit of energy out of your soul. Rather than confronting patients and arguing, it’s far easier to write a prescription for narcotics and move on to the next patient. This is the mindset of thousands of physicians.”
Anonymous Physician, April 25, 2013

Along with knowledge about alternative treatments, a valuable skill set for clinicians in this situation is an effective communication approach to address the possible scenarios that emerge:

  • Engaging patients in discussions about the risks of opioids;
  • Validating the frustration of chronic pain;
  • Evoking commitment to try alternative modalities;
  • Eliciting honesty about unhealthy/drug-seeking behaviors; and

Sharing concerns and resources for opioid addiction.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based communication approach that has been adapted for the brief healthcare setting to address many lifestyle management issues, including chronic pain. There is one promising clinical trial that used a single MI session in an emergency department to successfully reduce both the use of non-medical opioid use and overdose risk behaviors for prescription opioids as compared to a control group. Even beginning proficiency in MI equips practitioners with the confidence and skills needed to engage patients in conversations that generally lead to outcomes of being able to maintain rapport and successfully incorporate best practice guidelines for chronic pain treatment.

Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your patient has recently hurt their back and has requested strong pain medication.

Scenario 2: You suspect your patient may have an addiction to opioids.

In both cases, a practitioner, competent in the MI approach, would be able to use the following strategies to successfully navigate these challenging waters. These principles and strategies are based on Miller and Rollnick’s description of MI practice.

Engage and Partner

Taking a minute or two to build rapport with the patient may be counter-intuitive to a busy clinician. However, consider the time that is spent in unproductive arguments and power struggles. Research has shown that taking a more patient-centered approach is more time-efficient in the long run. Although the clinician is an expert in clinical aspects, the patient is the expert of their life, and the only one with the ability to commit to the suggested treatment plan. By stepping out of the authoritarian role, ideally, the clinician can partner with the patient in a collaborative way to problem-solve together. When a person helps to identify the best treatment course for themselves, they feel more ownership and are more committed; thus, are more likely to follow through.

Express Empathy

A core component of engaging is being able to express empathy, or the ability to convey accurate understanding through the eyes of the patient. This takes compassion, effort, genuine interest, and reflective listening. The clinician does not need to become a counselor to provide a meaningful statement that lets the patient know that the practitioner “gets it”. When the patient feels understood and accepted, they are more receptive to the clinician’s advice and guidance.

Share Concerns while Supporting Autonomy

In MI, the clinician is not simply following the patient but is a full partner. After establishing rapport and trust, it is not amiss to share any concerns that the provider has, if patient autonomy is concretely verbalized. The patient can always go to another doctor to get what they want; by acknowledging that it is the patient’s choice to pursue what they feel is best for them, the patient relaxes. This allows the clinician to share their concern in a way that does not elicit defensiveness.

Manage Expectations

It is important to manage the expectations of the patient. By clearly and transparently stating up front what the clinician feels is best practice and ethically viable, the patient is not disappointed later. Openly share that alternative treatment options may not address the pain as completely as opioids might initially, or, in the case of addiction, that there may be withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing the medication. Honesty preserves trust and conveys the clinician’s desire to support the patient as fully as possible, while still maintaining his integrity of practice.

Provide Decision Support with Menu of Options

Now the patient is ready for a menu of options with the pros and cons succinctly laid out. These include therapies such as non-opioid meds, stretching, and alternative treatments. Some of these options may be those that the clinician is not prepared to provide; e.g., if the patient is still favoring the option of more opioids. The clinician has been transparent about which options he feels are best and is willing to provide; however, the patient is in the driver’s seat to choose the best treatment course for himself. In most cases, the clinician can positively influence the patient’s decision. If not, the discussion remains professional, rapport is not lost, and the patient will feel comfortable returning to this provider. This keeps the door open to further dialogue about the situation.

There are many resources available for those who are interested in getting trained in MI, and the approach can be used for any lifestyle management or treatment adherent situation. However, a fair warning that MI is a complex skill set and cannot be learned in a one-and-done workshop. Just like learning to speak a foreign language or play a musical instrument, it takes practice and feedback from an expert over time to develop a meaningful proficiency. As many clinicians can attest though, this is one hard-earned competency that is more than worth it — for the practitioner, the patient and society!

Susan Butterworth, PhD

Amanda Sharp, MPH

About the Authors: Susan Butterworth, PhD, is principal and Amanda Sharp, MPH is program manager for Q-Consult LLC. Both are both members of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. Please visit Q-Consult, LLC their blog and find out more about patient-centered initiatives that increase patient engagement and improve clinical outcomes.

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

In Montefiore Social Determinants of Health Screening, Patients’ Needs Shape SDOH Workflow

July 11th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
 Clinical factors drive 15 percent of a patient's well-being; social determinants of health like finances drive the rest.


Clinical factors drive 15 percent of a patient’s well-being; social determinants of health like finances drive the rest.

In Dr. Amanda Parsons’ twenty-something years in healthcare, she has never implemented a program as widely embraced as Montefiore Health System’s Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screening.

“It was one of the few times in my career that I didn’t encounter physician resistance,” said Dr. Parsons, Montefiore’s vice president of community and population health. The health system’s screening assesses patients for a host of SDOH factors that drive 85 percent of their well-being, including housing, food security, access to care or medications, finances, transportation and violence.

Following assessment, the goal is to connect individuals who screen positively for SDOHs with assistance from the area’s robust network of community organizations.

Dr. Parsons outlined her organization’s SDOH screening process, findings, challenges, and future plans during Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Collecting and Responding to Data in the Primary Care Setting, a June 2017 webcast by the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for rebroadcast.

To get started, Montefiore piggybacked on the efforts of a few provider sites already screening for SDOHs. It then offered providers a choice of two validated screening tools, the first developed at a fifth-grade reading level, the second a more sophisticated “stressor” screen. Thirdly, it built a two-tiered triage system that leveraged social workers for individuals with very high SDOH needs, and community health workers to assist with lower-level needs.

Referrals would come from existing data banks or a host of new online referral tools, many of which Dr. Parsons mentioned during the webcast.

Interestingly, while Montefiore is fully live on an EPIC® electronic health record, SDOH screenings are currently conducted on paper, noted Dr. Parsons. This decision was one of multiple considerations in workflow creation, including respect for patient privacy.

For the time being, each Montefiore provider site selects a unique population to screen—or opts not to screen at all, if staffing is lacking. For example, one site screens all patients scheduled for annual physicals, while another screens patients recently discharged from the hospital.

In an initial readout of both screens, SDOH positivity was highest for housing and finances.

By the end of 2017, Montefiore expects to have completed more than 10,000 screenings. The health system, which serves some 700,000 patients, also plans to boost its ranks of community health workers, broadening its referral network.

Looking ahead, Montefiore will address a number of key administrative and emotional barriers. Some patient issues, like overcoming the stigma of seeing a social worker, can be minimized with a simple scripting change. Others, like alleviating an individual’s financial pain or putting a roof over a family’s head, are much more complicated.

Also needed is a process to confirm a patient has “gone that last mile” and obtained the recommended support, Dr. Parsons added.

As it expands SDOH screening, Montefiore is banking on that swell of engaged providers. As part of its mission to provide comprehensive, ‘cradle-to-grave’ care for its mostly Medicaid and otherwise government-insured population, Montefiore “intervenes even when there is no payment structure for that work,” said Dr. Parsons.

Falling into that category is SDOH screening. “Much of the Social Determinants of Health work is not very billable in the traditional paper service model, but it is incredibly important to do, regardless.”

Listen to an interview with Dr. Parsons on adapting SDOH screenings for different populations.
TW_Montefiore_SDOH_webinar0617

Infographic: Specialty Pharmacy Growth Trend

July 5th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Much of the growth in the U.S. specialty pharmacy industry can be attributed to healthcare provider-owned pharmacies, according to a new infographic by URAC.

The infographic provides a snapshot of the specialty pharmacy industry trend in hospital systems.

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk PopulationsWhen it comes to medication management for Medicare beneficiaries, there are more than 25 different factors that can complicate proper use of prescribed medicines—from affordability issues, even among the insured, to fear of a drug’s side effects to potential dangers from high-risk medications or health conditions.

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations examines Novant Health’s deployment of pharmacists as part of its five-pronged strategy to deliver healthcare value through medication management services.

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Improve Medication Adherence, and Payors Pay Attention

June 20th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
medication adherence

Training in motivational interviewing helps Novant health set medication adherence goals that are meaningful to patients.

Seeking additional dollars from managed care contracts? Work harder at getting patients to adhere to medication therapies, advises Rebecca Bean, director of population health pharmacy for Novant Health. Here, Ms. Bean describes ways her organization is improving medication adherence, including pharmacist referrals, while enhancing Novant Health’s bottom line.

Medication adherence is a huge focus for our organization. There are some quality measures related to adherence, including CMS Star measures. They are triple-weighted, which indicates they mean a lot to payors. Often, medication adherence is a way to get additional dollars through managed care contracts. Our pharmacists work hard at helping patients adhere to medication therapies.

We have found some benefit to using adherence estimators. Adherence estimators give you a better feel for what is causing the patient to have difficulty with taking their medication. The other finding is that oftentimes providers are unaware; they have no idea patients aren’t taking medications. This becomes a safety issue; providers may keep adding blood pressure medications because they are not getting that blood pressure to goal. If for whatever reason the patient suddenly decides to take a medication they weren’t taking before, there could be a serious issue with taking all of those blood pressure medicines at one time.

The other benefit to estimating adherence and identifying root causes is that it frames the discussion with the patient. I don’t want to spend an hour talking to a patient about why it’s important to take this blood pressure medicine when it’s actually a financial issue. If I know it’s a financial issue, then I can make recommendations on cost-saving alternatives. It helps you to be more efficient in your conversation with the patient.

The other challenge of adherence is that patients are reluctant to be honest about this issue. You have to be creative to get the answers you need or get to the truth about adherence. If you flat out ask a patient if they’re taking their medications, most of the time they will say yes.

One other helpful strategy when working with patients to set adherence goals is to have them set goals that mean something to them. It’s not helpful for me to set a goal for a patient. If I ask them to tell me what they’re going to do, then they’re accountable for that. It is very helpful to get your staff trained in motivational interviewing. This trains them to meet the patients where they are and to understand what is important to that patient, which helps you frame the medication therapy discussion.

Source: Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations

pharmacists and medication adherence

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations examines Novant Health’s deployment of pharmacists as part of its five-pronged strategy to deliver healthcare value through medication management services.

HINfographic: During Annual Wellness Visit, Screen for Social Health Determinants

June 12th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Seventy percent of health outcomes are determined by social determinants of health­—areas that involve an individual’s social and environmental condition as well as experiences that directly impact health and health status, according to the Pew Research Center in its report, Chronic Disease and the Internet.

A new infographic by HIN examines the impact of SDOH on health status, why the Medicare annual visit is an ideal time to screen for SDOH and the correlation between technology and social isolation.

The move from fee-for-service to value-based healthcare is driving the need for increased capabilities in population health management, including addressing all of the areas that may impact a person’s health. There is growing recognition that a broad range of social, economic and environmental factors shape an individual’s health, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, 60 percent of premature deaths are due to either individual behaviors or social and environmental factors. Healthcare providers who adopt value-based reimbursement models have an economic interest in all of the factors that impact a person’s health and providers must develop new skills and data gathering capabilities and forge community partnerships to understand and impact these factors.

During Social Determinants and Population Health: Moving Beyond Clinical Data in a Value-Based Healthcare System, a December 8th webinar, now available for replay, Dr. Randall Williams, chief executive officer, Pharos Innovations, shares his insight on the opportunity available to providers to impact population health beyond traditional clinical factors.

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Infographic: The Battle for Medication Adherence

May 24th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Patient adherence to a prescription regimen can reduce costs and improve the quality of life, according to a new infographic by Medical Marketing & Media.

However, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies struggle to find the best tools, words and technologies that will improve adherence rates among patients with chronic conditions.

The infographic examines the impact of non-adherence and how text messaging and “polypills” can impact adherence.

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk PopulationsWhen it comes to medication management for Medicare beneficiaries, there are more than 25 different factors that can complicate proper use of prescribed medicines—from affordability issues, even among the insured, to fear of a drug’s side effects to potential dangers from high-risk medications or health conditions.

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations examines Novant Health’s deployment of pharmacists as part of its five-pronged strategy to deliver healthcare value through medication management services.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Infographic: A Digital Prescription for Medication Adherence

December 26th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

A Digital Prescription for Medication AdherenceMedication adherence is a $337 billion problem in the U.S. healthcare industry. Patients failing to take their prescriptions or follow treatment plans result in more than $100 billion every year in hospitalizations alone, and healthcare spending on noncompliant patients is nearly double the cost of abiding patients, according to a new infographic by epam.

The infographic examines how telehealth can be used to improve medication adherence.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Medication ManagementMedication management is the standard of care that ensures each patient’s medications (whether prescription, nonprescription, alternative, etc.) are individually assessed for appropriateness, effectiveness, safety given the individual’s comorbidities, other medications and ability to be taken as intended, according to a 2012 Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative definition. And while medications represent only a fraction of overall medical cost, they wield considerable influence over patients’ chronic condition outcomes, utilization, cost and care experiences.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Medication Management compiles actionable data on the infrastructure, challenges and outcomes of medication management initiatives, based on responses from 101 healthcare organizations to the August 2016 Medication Management survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network. Click here for more information.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today. Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Engage a Pharmacist and 12 More Prescriptions for Medication Management

October 20th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Half of medication management programs engage retail or community pharmacists in 2016.

When should a pharmacist be brought in for a medication management consultation?

When the patient requests a consult, experiences general medication adherence issues, or suffers complications from medications, say respondents to the 2016 Medication Management survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

The 101 respondents to the August 2016 survey also indicated that as a general medication management guideline, and with or without a pharmacist’s involvement, polypharmacy patients, individuals taking high-risk medications, those registering frequent ER or inpatient stays and those transitioning between care sites should receive priority.

Drilling down to clinical red flags for medication management, a diagnosis of diabetes is a key indicator, say 84 percent, followed by congestive heart failure or hypertension, say 81 percent of respondents.

Despite the inclusion of pharmacists in 90 percent of medication management programs, 42 percent of respondents say pharmacists are not currently reimbursed for medication management-related tasks.

Other medication management metrics documented by the survey include the following:

  • The three most common components of medication management programs are education and health coaching (71 percent), a medication needs assessment (69 percent) and pharmacist counseling (68 percent).
  • A pharmacist-driven clinical assessment is the most reliable standard for measuring medication management, say 63 percent of respondents.
  • E-prescribing and aids such as medication event monitoring system (MEMS) caps, pillboxes and calendars are the most common medication management tools, according to 49 percent of participants.
  • Patient-reported medication data is the information most commonly assessed for medication management, say 78 percent, closely followed by medication refill patterns (75 percent) and claims data (53 percent).
  • Half of responding medication management programs engage a retail or community pharmacist.
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents not currently engaged in medication management plan to launch a program in the coming year.
  • Forty-four percent of respondents share electronic health records for medication management purposes.
  • Beyond a pharmacist-driven assessment, the Medication Possession Ratio (MPR) is the key measure of medication management for 31 percent of respondents.

Click here to download an executive summary of survey results: Medication Management in 2016: Polypharmacy, Diabetes Patients Priorities for Pharmacist-Led Interventions.

Infographic: Prescription Drug Spending Trends

April 20th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Prescription drug spending rose sharply in 2014, driven by growth in expenditures on specialty drugs, including medications to treat cancer and hepatitis C. Medicare’s spending on prescription pharmaceuticals also has risen, largely due to the addition of the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2006: between 2004 and 2014, the program’s share of U.S. drug expenditures increased from 2 percent of $193 billion to 29 percent of $298 billion.

A new infographic by Visualizing Health Policy from the Kaiser Family Foundation spotlights these and other national spending trends on prescription drugs and the public’s views on pharmaceutical prices.

What’s the cost of medication non-adherence? As high as $290 billion annually, according to one frequently cited estimate. An equally bitter pill to swallow is the dismal C+ grade in medication adherence earned in 2013 by Americans with chronic medical conditions, according to the first National Report Card on Adherence from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

Fortunately, the healthcare industry is striving to improve performance in this area. 42 Metrics for Improving Medication Adherence: Interventions, Impacts and Technologies provides convincing evidence of the impact of nine key interventions on medication non-adherence—from the presence of pharmacists in patient-centered medical homes to medication reconciliation conducted during home visits.

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Novant Health Pharmacists Dispense Healthcare Value in the Discharge Space

February 25th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Novant Health's team of 12 clinical pharmacists supports medication management across the care continuum.

It’s a statistic healthcare organizations know well: 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.

Factor adverse drug events (ADEs) into this trend, and the picture becomes more dire.

Enlisting pharmacists to reduce the number of ADEs in the Medicare population is just one goal in a five-point program by Novant Health to deliver healthcare value through medication management services.

“We’ve focused on adverse drug events because we feel they are an opportunity,” explained Rebecca Bean, Novant Health’s director of population health pharmacy. “Many ADEs are potentially preventable, and we know they are a contributor to hospitalizations. We believe pharmacists have a role in reducing risk for ADEs.”

The list of ADE risks is extensive. By the end of Ms. Bean’s February 2016 presentation on Medication Management: Using Clinical Pharmacists To Complete Comprehensive Drug Therapy Management Post Discharge in High-Risk Patients, now available for replay, she had identified more than 25 different factors that can complicate medication management— everything from a patient’s affordability issues, even among the insured, to fear of a drug’s side effects to potential dangers from high-risk medications or health conditions.

In the Novant Health model, an RN care coordinator risk-stratifies the newly discharged, combing real-time hospital discharge notifications for red flags, such as patients taking high-risk medications or having high-risk conditions, signaling the need for a pharmacist referral.

Once referred, pharmacists conduct a comprehensive drug therapy review, keeping an eye out for adverse effects, newly prescribed medications and polypharmacy as well as general medication adherence issues.

“There could be financial barriers to getting their medications. There could be health literacy issues. Those are the sorts of things we want to make sure we’re directing pharmacist resources toward,” noted Ms. Bean.

Aware its providers have limited time to spend with patients, the integrated health system layers its pharmacists as an additional resource to improve quality performance, to incorporate protocols and evidence-based guidelines such as the all-important medication reconciliation. In an era of electronic health record use, the medication list has become dynamic, with many providers editing the list, Ms. Bean notes.

“We’re also utilizing our pharmacy team both on the inpatient and outpatient sides to gather that best possible medication history, and then teach other clinical team members how to best reconcile medications.”

Ms. Bean shared seven ways Novant Health pharmacists impact comprehensive medication management services, including the dozen benefits of incorporating these clinicians into its patient-centered medical homes (PCMH).

Encouraged by early financial gains from pharmacist interventions, particularly in the areas of medication reconciliation, therapeutic monitoring and warfarin review, Novant Health is committed to staff development to further its medication management program, exploring certification programs and even pharmacy resident programs.

“We feel it’s really valuable in the discharge space to be able to get a pharmacist involved with taking care of patients,” Ms. Bean concluded.

Listen to an interview with Rebecca Bean in which she offers ideas to improve the accuracy of medication lists.