VCU Health builds tool to streamline communication between inpatient units and its pharmacy at discharge

Pharmacists at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System play a key role in the discharge process of patients, but they had limited information on which patients were likely to be sent home first. Clinicians often submitted requests simply marked "ASAP," even if many of those patients were actually hours from discharge.

Pharmacists at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System play a key role in the discharge process of patients, but they had limited information on which patients were likely to be sent home first. Clinicians often submitted requests simply marked "ASAP," even if many of those patients were actually hours from discharge. As a result, pharmacists were interrupted multiple times a day to fill prescriptions. Kelley Barry, senior clinical applications analyst at VCU Health, and her team built a new indicator for its patient tracking system for the discharge pharmacy. The tool allows pharmacists to better prioritize the prescriptions as they came in and also let clinicians on inpatient units monitor if a prescription is being filled or if there is a delay. In addition, the tool will provide details on causes of a delay, such as a copay or prior authorization issue. Over the last several months, VCU Health has seen an increase in discharges before noon, and patients are more informed about their timelines, says Barry. There has also been a decrease in units' calls to the discharge pharmacy, speeding up pharmacists' ability to fill prescriptions. Getting buy-in from pharmacists was essential, Barry adds.