Nationally recognized Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics (CMH) has a history of providing award-winning care, and has launched an initiative to improve their discharge process – recently beginning with its main location in downtown Kansas City, MO.
ScriptPro spoke to Chip Bruce, R.Ph., Assistant Director of Pharmacy Outpatient Services, about the process of implementing their Meds to Beds initiative and the challenges they overcame.
ScriptPro: Tell us about CMH’s Meds to Beds program.
Chip Bruce: We started a pilot project in December 2014, beginning with just one floor delivering medications directly to the bedside for our discharged patients. Some things we thought would work didn’t. It took us about two months to work out all the bugs while we fine-tuned, tweaked, and improved the system. Then we expanded to a second floor. Sometime this week, we will have delivered our 1000th bedside delivery.
SP: What prompted you to take on this initiative?
CB: We saw an important opportunity to improve our discharge process – and in a way that would have an immediate impact. We noticed patients would get medications filled just before hospital discharge, but would forget to stop by the outpatient pharmacy. Or they would be discharged after we were closed and couldn’t get their prescriptions. Then, they would have trouble getting them filled at an outside pharmacy because those prescriptions had already been filled. On a hospital-wide basis, we are working toward improving the discharge process.
SP: What were your biggest implementation challenges?
CB: Internally, our biggest challenge was making sure we had enough staff to actually run the program—we didn’t add any new staff to start the pilot! Convincing our staff that they could do it – that was #1.
Within the pharmacy, we knew we needed to simplify prescription processing. We did a lot of work with ScriptPro; they assisted us in the zoning—to break the pharmacy up into essentially two independently-run workflows, but were seamlessly tied together to keep everything organized. By making that improvement, we saved enough time to run the Meds to Beds program.
From an external perspective, we needed to work with the nurses on the floor. We found a champion in one of the nurse directors. Now after several months, we feel like we have a really good process.
SP: What does a successful Meds to Beds program look like to you?
CB: We want this to be a seamless process so that from the day a patient is admitted, we are already looking toward the discharge date. When the patient is actually discharged, we can make an appointment to come to their bedside at their convenience and dispense their prescriptions to them. It improves the patient’s experience, and helps smooth the process of leaving the hospital and returning to the comforts of home.
SP: What’s on the horizon for CMH?
CB: It’s going to take several months to roll out the Meds to Beds program and complete it hospital-wide. After that, we are going to put in a new pharmacy at our South Kansas City hospital location. We don’t have an outpatient pharmacy there, but have needed one for years.