Experience Brief: Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy partnering with hospital to reduce readmissions among CHF patients
Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy is an independent pharmacy inside Desert Regional Medical Center, a 387-bed tertiary acute care hospital located in Palm Springs, California. Desert Regional Medical Center, which has attained the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its congestive heart failure program, has reduced readmission rates by 17% among congestive heart failure (CHF) patients through a close partnership with Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy.
Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy sees a diverse mix of patients. Approximately 40% of our pharmacy patients come from the hospital and associated accountable care organization, 50% are from the surrounding medical complex, and the remaining 10% come through word of mouth or referrals from other pharmacies and service providers. Professional referrals are often made when a patient needs a specialty medication, like chemotherapy drugs, which are not routinely stocked at neighborhood pharmacies. Because we are located within the hospital complex, we have these medicines on hand.
In general, we estimate that approximately 80% of our patients aged 65 years and older suffer from chronic illness, with CHF being the leading illness among this older patient population. Diabetes mellitus has quickly grown to be the leading chronic illness among our younger patient population ranging in age from 19 to 39 years. This age group accounts for approximately 25% of our overall diabetic patient population. As a result, a large number of our chronic disease patients are routinely prescribed 15 to 20 medications to be taken on a daily basis, which presents a huge challenge in terms of patient education and adherence.
Our pharmacy staff is comprised of 3 clinical pharmacists and 10 support staff. They fill on average 500 prescriptions a day and serve over 1,000 patients per month.