DOI: 10.1177/00469580231218625 ISSN: 0046-9580

CComprehensive Pharmacist-led Transitions-of-care Medication Management around Hospital Discharge Adds Modest Cost Relative to Usual Care: Time-and-Motion Cost Analysis

Teryl K. Nuckols, Carl T. Berdahl, Andrew J. Henreid, Jeffrey L. Schnipper, Asad Rauf, EunJi M. Ko, An T. Nguyen, Zoe Co, John Fanikos, Ji-Hyun Kim, Donna W. Leang, Lina Matta, Kathleen Mulligan, Avik Ray, Rita Shane, Kirollos Wassef, Joshua M. Pevnick
  • Health Policy

Optimal medication management is important during hospitalization and at discharge because post-discharge adverse drug events (ADEs) are common, often preventable, and contribute to patient harms, healthcare utilization, and costs. Conduct a cost analysis of a comprehensive pharmacist-led transitions-of-care medication management intervention for older adults during and after hospital discharge. Twelve intervention components addressed medication reconciliation, medication review, and medication adherence. Trained, experienced pharmacists delivered the intervention to older adults with chronic comorbidities at 2 large U.S. academic centers. To quantify and categorize time spent on the intervention, we conducted a time-and-motion analysis of study pharmacists over 36 sequential workdays (14 519 min) involving 117 patients. For 40 patients’ hospitalizations, we observed all intervention activities. We used the median minutes spent and pharmacist wages nationally to calculate cost per hospitalization (2020 U.S. dollars) from the hospital perspective, relative to usual care. Pharmacists spent a median of 66.9 min per hospitalization (interquartile range 46.1-90.1), equating to $101 ($86 to $116 in sensitivity analyses). In unadjusted analyses, study site was associated with time spent (medians 111 and 51.8 min) while patient primary language, discharge disposition, number of outpatient medications, and patient age were not. In this cost analysis, comprehensive medication management around discharge cost about $101 per hospitalization, with variation across sites. This cost is at least an order of magnitude less than published costs associated with ADEs, hospital readmissions, or other interventions designed to reduce readmissions. Work is ongoing to assess the current intervention’s effectiveness.

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