March 7, 2012
The Pharmacy Department at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital and NVRH Corner Medical in Lyndon are partnering with the University of Vermont, the Vermont Department of Health, and the Vermont Blueprint for Health on a project to improve the health and healthcare of Vermonters.
Laura Flaherty and Allison Henderson are hospital pharmacists working at NVRH. Flaherty and Henderson will be spending about ten hours a week working with Corner Medical on this project over the next year. The pharmacists will be working directly with the healthcare providers, nurses, the community health team staff at Corner Medical, and anticipate some direct patient contact too.
There are three basic ways to best use a pharmacist in a primary care office: education, direct patient care, and population-based medication management. The project at Corner Medical will most likely be some combination of all three. “We are still working out the details,” said Flaherty, “But we are discussing several exciting ideas”.
Ideas like: face-to-face education sessions with healthcare providers regarding new medications and changes in medication dosing recommendations; meeting with patients after a discharge from the hospital to answer questions about their medications; and working with the healthcare providers on how to best to manage patients on specific classes of medications such as statins for cholesterol control.
Corner Medical is one of six primary care offices in locations across Vermont taking part in this pilot project. One of the goals of the Medication Management Pilot is to test different models of collaboration between pharmacists and primary care practices.
“UVM is not trying to prove that one is better than the others, “ said Amanda Kennedy , PharmD, BCPS, UVM Assistant Professor of Medicine. “We are more interested in seeing all the different ways pharmacists can be integrated into primary care.” Each site will be evaluated based on the same measures that include things like cost and sustainability, as well as how well each model fosters collaboration between the pharmacists and primary care.
While there have been other pharmacy and primary care projects in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Canada , Dr. Charles MacLean, UVM Associate Dean for Primary Care describes the Vermont pilot as a ground breaking project . “No one else in the country is doing this,” said Dr. MacLean.