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With Students’ Help, Pharmacists Reach Every Patient at Cleveland Clinic Florida

Mar 25, 2013

Front row, Diana Pinto Perez, Pharm.D., pharmacist, is joined by (from left) Lori Milicevic, Pharm.D., BCPS, pharmacist, and Eniko Balasso, Pharm.D., graduate intern.

ON THE HEELS of ASHP’s Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative Summit in 2010, Cleveland Clinic Florida (CCF) set the goal of giving all patients at the 155-bed academic institution the opportunity to interact with pharmacists as part of their care.

It was a lofty goal, one that would stretch the pharmacy department’s staff and resources.

In addition to the responsibilities they already had for conducting profile reviews, reviewing medication dosing, attending patient care rounds, and providing drug information, pharmacists would also take on conducting medication histories, performing medication reconciliation, and offering disease-state or discharge medication counseling on all patients.

They were clearly going to need help, and that help would come from pharmacy students.

Layered Learning Models for Students

Six months after the Summit, Osmel Delgado, Pharm.D., BCPS, cPH, administrative director of clinical operations and director of pharmacy services, and William Kernan, Pharm.D., BCPS, assistant director and PGY1 residency program director, traveled to Cleveland Clinic’s main campus in Cleveland.

At the Cleveland Clinic Pharmacy Practice Model Summit, they met with pharmacy thought leaders from prominent health systems and learned how other systems were incorporating PPMI recommendations into their practice models.

Osmel Delgado, Pharm.D., BCPS, cPH

Delgado and Kernan were particularly impressed with the layered learning models involving students at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

“We took their examples as lessons learned, and began to engage the colleges of pharmacies that we had affiliations with to see how we could accept more students,” Delgado said. “It took a good six to 12 months to refine and retool the ways we could create a valuable learning experience for the students, but also have them apply what they know in practice.”

Building On a Solid Foundation

CCF already had a progressive pharmacy program in which four clinical pharmacists would take on at least one student per month for introductory and advanced pharmacy practice experiences.

Under the new model, each preceptor would offer at least four rotations per month, and students would work as pharmacist extenders. The process begins with an orientation that covers the health system’s electronic medical records system, documentation practices, medication history and reconciliation processes, and disease-state and discharge education.

From left, student pharmacists Yesenia Fike and Pamela Silva (Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy, Class of 2013) consult about a patient’s medications.

After orientation, students provide hands-on care in rotation blocks up to three months long. The preceptors act as coaches, and they review and sign off on the students’ activities and patient notes.

“When students come to orientation, we tell them that they are crucial to the process and that we expect them to do what the pharmacists do and ask questions if they need help,” said Kernan. He added that the block rotations offer consistency across areas of care such as internal medicine, infectious disease, critical care, and anticoagulation.

“In each area, the students have to do medication reconciliation, provide discharge counseling, and answer patient questions about medications.”

Accessing Patient Charts

Under the old system, pharmacy students lacked individual computer access to the health system’s electronic medical records (EMR) and documentation system, which limited their ability to participate fully in recording care and tracking patients. That has since changed, according to Antonia Zapantis, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, preceptor in the program and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“We felt it was crucial that students have access to the records and use the same systems and forms as the pharmacists, so that they could learn how to use these resources as part of providing pharmacy services,” she said.

The pharmacy informatics team reworked several aspects of the EMR and documentations systems so that students could put progress notes into patient charts. Pharmacists cosign the student notes.

Happier Patients, Better Outcomes

Thanks to student involvement in the hands-on provision of care, the pharmacy department has met its goal of providing every patient at CCF with pharmacist interaction. As a result, patient satisfaction scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) have risen steadily over the last four quarters.

“The feedback we get from patients is that they’re happy to know and learn about their medications,” said Martha Espinoza-Friedman, Pharm.D., BCPS, clinical pharmacist and preceptor in the program. “Those who were in other hospitals before coming to CCF were impressed. They haven’t seen this kind of care before.”

Jaime Riskin, Pharm.D., BCPS

The patients are safer, too, said preceptor Jaime Riskin, Pharm.D., BCPS, clinical assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy.

“The pharmacy caught errors and documented adverse drug events because of all the students out there identifying discrepancies. It shows just how helpful students can be if you give them the right tools,” she said.

Riskin added that having access to the EMR system allows students to follow up and see whether their interventions made a difference in a patient’s care.

According to Kernan, the program at CCF shows how there is nothing to fear by extending the student experience into patient care areas. “We found that when you add more students, it makes your job more efficient. If you train them and use them right, it works in your favor.”

Delgado is optimistic about the future—for the program, the students who participate, and the students’ future patients.

“We’re teaching students to inject themselves into the process at key times for the patient, such as discharge or any transition of care from acute to post-acute settings,” he said. “As pharmacists, they will ultimately understand the importance of their work across an enterprise-wide continuum of care.”

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