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Upstate now automatically enrolls patients in popular prescription program

Patients at Upstate Community Hospital will now be automatically enrolled in the popular Meds to Beds program.

Meds to Beds, started in 2018 to make the transition home after discharge easier by allowing patients to receive their medications before leaving the hospital. Pharmacy staff evaluates discharge orders, reviews insurance issues and resolves cost-related concerns. A discharge pharmacist then provides medication education before a patient leaves. The service promotes medication adherence and supports a safe transition to home by taking away medication-related obstacles.

Before the launch in this month, Meds to Beds was an opt-in program for most patients; about half of Community’s patients were enrolled in the program and about 60 percent of patients downtown. Certain populations have been automatically enrolled for the past several years, such as pediatric and one-day surgery patients, as well as disease state-specific enrollment of patients auto-referred to Upstate’s Medication Adherence Program (MAP). These patients include those with heart failure, stroke, and COPD/asthma.

Eric Balotin, RPh, director of Retail/Specialty Pharmacy Services, said the expansion of the program is possible now that pharmacy staffing has stabilized.

“We have seen measurable improvements in readmission rates and medication access, with a reduction in after-hour provider calls since we started the program in 2018.  These improved patient outcomes warranted a full auto-enrollment program,” he said.

To handle the increase in patients using the service, Upstate has increased the number of onsite staff, the number of days staff are available, and increased medication deliveries from once to twice a day on the weekends to better support discharges throughout the day.

Once discharged, patients who wish to remain with the Upstate Outpatient Pharmacy can have their medications delivered and can continue to receive financial support for their prescriptions if needed. 

According to the CDC, in 2021, 8.2 percent of adults, or about nine million people on prescription medication reported not taking the medication as prescribed due to cost. The Upstate Outpatient Pharmacy has the resources of a dedicated Medication Assistance team to support patients in addressing this issue.  

“We are working to preemptively remove the cost barrier to medication access and adherence,” said Christina Hyde, ND, MBA, CPHQ, manager of Pharmacy Utilization and Program Development at the Outpatient Pharmacy.

Once the program is established at Community, plans are to expand further.   

“Since this program has proven valuable to our patients, we hope to expand to a similar full auto-enrollment at Upstate University Hospital soon,” Balotin said.