A team of pharmacists, physicians and nurses from the University of Florida Health Science Center Jacksonville and Shands Jacksonville brought home three national awards last month for improving access to health care.
The awards are given by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of Health and Human Services.
The HRSA Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative (PSPC) is part of an effort designed to improve the quality of care by integrating evidence-based clinical pharmacy services into the care and management of complex patients with high risks and high costs.
The team won the Life-Saving Patient Award and the Outstanding Performance Award. Eric B. Stewart, M.D., assistant professor of community health and family medicine at the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville and medical director of the UF Commonwealth Family Medicine and Pediatric Center, was given the Outstanding Executive Leader Award.
At the Commonwealth center and the UF Soutel Family Practice and Pediatric Center, pharmacists are brought in to meet with patients and have a seat at the table in decision making.
"The fundamental foundation of this department is pharmacists are an integral member of the health care team," said Thanh Hogan, Pharm.D., a clinical associate professor at the UF College of Pharmacy-Jacksonville and director of the Shands Jacksonville Pharmacy department. "Ultimately, it’s the patient that benefits."
The concept is part of the Patient-Centered Medical Home model, which emphasizes collecting data to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Pharmacists are an essential part of the team and keep an eye on trends and studies with various drugs, Stewart said, alerting the physicians and staff when changes should be made.
For example, research showed one drug for high cholesterol was less likely to cause an adverse drug reaction than the medication many patients were receiving. Stewart’s staff was able to pull the patient files for the 3,000 to 4,000 people getting the medication and automatically noted the patient file so the prescription would be changed on the next refill.
The databases make the change possible, but it wouldn’t happen without the input of the pharmacists, Stewart said.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say 10," he said of the importance of having pharmacists as part of the complete medical team. "The medical home could not exist without the pharmacy department. We might as well go back to business as usual."
Pharmacists meet with patients on regular visits to go over their medications and, in some cases, they’ll say something they forgot to mention to the doctor.
The members of the team that won the two awards are: Hogan; Stewart; Karen Malcolm, Pharm.D.; Brendia Thomas, Pharm.D.; Kenyatta Y. Lee, M.D.; Lisa Dunson; Greg Miller; Yolanda Nunn, ARNP; Debra Standley, RN; Carlette Crawford, M.A.; Ann Young; Daniel Belot and Bernadette Belgado, Pharm.D.