Archbold Memorial Hospital’s Brooks County Hospital was recently awarded a Leadership Award at the VHA Georgia 2015 Leadership Expo in Atlanta for the hospital’s initiative to reduce patient readmission rates and increase patient access to important medication. VHA Georgia, a membership alliance for not-for-profit health care providers that help member organizations meet the growing challenges of service to their communities, awarded BCH third place in the category for hospitals with less than 50 beds for the hospital’s submission titled, “Reducing Readmission Rates”.
The project submitted by BCH documented that 24% of families living in the counties the hospital serves live below poverty level, as compared to the state-wide average which is 18.2%. During the study, six sample patients were used to establish a baseline for the cost of medications in the retail market. Of the six patients, the average cost of medication for one was more than $5,000.
“Our study determined that medications for these patients simply were not affordable, and it directly caused this group to exhibit non-compliance and increased visits to the doctor, which in turn caused an increase in our hospital’s readmission rates,” said June Furney, BCH director of nursing. “To better serve this population, and the community as a whole, we determined it was important to offer patients the option of filling prescriptions through a 340B program, a program we already had in place, but we discovered we weren’t using to our full potential.”
According to Furney, the hospital began educating staff, physicians and eligible patients on the savings opportunities available through the hospital’s 340B plan, a program that allows eligible patients to fill prescriptions at a discounted cost through the hospital pharmacy.
“With the 340B plan, once discharged from the inpatient unit, eligible patients can receive up to a year of prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy,” said Furney. “For Emergency Department discharges, patients can receive up to a year of prescription medication for that particular diagnosis.”
In 2014, one year after implementation of the extension of the 340B Plan, BCH’s readmission rate dropped 33%. Year-to-date, and compared to 2014, the hospital’s readmission rate has dropped another 54%, making a 69% overall reduction in readmissions in less than two years.
The six sample patients that received prescriptions through the 340B Plan experienced an 89% reduction in cost by using the in-hospital pharmacy.
“I’m so proud of our team for taking the initiative to ensure our patients have everything necessary to aid in the healing process once they are discharged from our hospital,” said Ken Rhudy, Brooks County Hospital administrator. “Our physicians and staff truly have the health and safety of our patients in mind, and winning this award is a testament to that sustained focus.”