KATIE WEDELL/STAFF

Program helps Ohioans with 10 or more prescriptions

A pilot program is helping local people who take 10 or more prescriptions avoid medication errors and stay out of the emergency room.

The program is through Buckeye Health Plan, which in 2017 covered about 345,000 Ohioans between its Medicaid, Medicare and Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.

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Meera Patel-Zook, senior director of pharmacy at Buckeye Health Plan, said people in the program have fewer inpatient stays and emergency department visits, which translates to a cost savings of $500 per member per month for those the program.

“If you have more than a couple of medications, it is very difficult for a member to really make sure they are taking them at the right time, they are taking them on a daily basis and how they are supposed to,” she said.

The program, Buckeye RxPlus, was piloted in 2017 and starts with an in-home assessment to review prescriptions, with the information is sent to a pharmacist for review. Pharmacists check medications for accuracy, duplicate therapies and how the drugs might interact with each other. Patients get a pill pack home delivered that consolidates medication doses based on the day and time they should be taken. Buckeye also said it follows up with providers to deter excessive prescribing.

She said without help, people might forget to take all their medications when and how they are supposed to and they might not understand what all their prescriptions are supposed to do.

People in the program adhere almost 100 percent to taking medications the way they should. Their average members in Medicaid have about 82 percent medication adherence. For people with chronic illnesses, hospital admission rates increase by up to 69 percent for patients who don’t take medication as prescribed, Buckeye reported.

Patel-Zook said they are planning a program expansion this year for people leaving inpatient care, who might leave the hospital with two or more medications.

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