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Pharmacist House Calls Improve Health of Virginia Mason Heart Failure Patients

SEATTLE – (March 11, 2016) – A Virginia Mason pilot program featuring pharmacist house calls that is designed to reduce hospital readmissions among heart failure patients is proving successful.

For the program, called Heart to Heart, Virginia Mason has partnered with Kelley-Ross, an independent pharmacy group in Seattle. Kelley-Ross pharmacists visit the homes of patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure once a month for three months after they are discharged from Virginia Mason Hospital. The pharmacist explains medications, answers questions, and helps patients organize their medications to prevent confusion and ensure they follow their medication schedules as prescribed.

Through the first five months of the 12-month initiative, only one (4.3 percent) of the 23 patients currently enrolled was readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, and this was for a non-cardiac issue. The national rate of unplanned readmissions for heart failure patients is 22 percent, according to Hospital Compare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website that provides information on how well hospitals provide recommended care to their patients.

Thus far, 125 medication/therapy-related issues have been identified and addressed by Kelley-Ross pharmacists in collaboration with Virginia Mason clinicians. Additionally, 152 interventions have been performed to enhance care quality and patient safety (for example, smoking cessation support, patient education and care coordination).

“This program draws on best practices in medication management and expands our support for heart failure patients during the critical transition phase from the hospital setting to their homes,” said Anne Casey, director, Virginia Mason Heart Institute. “Our work with Kelley-Ross is proving that hospital readmissions can be reduced when patients better understand when, why and how to take their medications and become more engaged in their well-being.”

Visits and consultations by Kelley-Ross pharmacists are in addition to phone conversations and follow-up visits patients have with their care providers at the Virginia Mason Heart Failure Clinic.

During its pilot year, the Heart to Heart program can support up to 50 heart failure patients who are taking at least five chronic-condition medications and living in private residences. The initiative’s overall success will be evaluated after 12 months and the most effective protocols integrated into Virginia Mason’s standard post-discharge care regimen for heart failure patients.

The pilot program is funded by a $25,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to Virginia Mason and a $59,000 grant to Kelley-Ross from the Community Pharmacy Foundation.

Heart failure, an incurable condition in which the weakened heart muscle is unable to supply the cells with enough blood, is the most common cause of hospitalization among individuals 65 years and older. Learn more about heart failure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About Virginia Mason Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online: VirginiaMason.org

Virginia Mason also includes Yakima-based Memorial Family of Services and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, a 226-bed facility serving the Yakima Valley in Central Washington since 1950. Memorial Family of Services comprises primary care practices and specialty care services, including high quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, hospice care, and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Memorial online: YakimaMemorial.org

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Media Relations Manager
Virginia Mason Health System
(206) 341-1509
gale.robinette@VirginiaMason.org