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January 2010 Issue

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Pharmacy Clinic Makes Drug Monitoring a 'Team Sport'

By Katie Pence
Published January 2010

“I have been a patient of the AntiCoag Clinic for a year or more. My previous family doctor occasionally had my blood drawn and sent to the lab. The issue for me was that it was like pulling teeth to get or know my results … My experience with the AntiCoag clinic has been remarkable. I am having my blood checked regularly and I know the status within seconds … I have much more peace of mind since coming to the clinic … Thanks to all involved in this very important process of overall health management…”

These are words that mean a lot to Alicia Pence, PharmD, and the other clinical pharmacists who see patients at the internal medicine clinic in the Hoxworth Blood Center building every day.

“This letter was sent to us about a year ago from one of our patients,” says Pence, clinical pharmacy specialist. “This is just one of the positive responses we’ve heard. Patients are very satisfied with the services we provide.”

Four clinical pharmacists and one specialty pharmacy resident work collaboratively with physicians in the clinic to schedule appointments with patients on a regular basis and review drug therapies in addition to adjusting medication dosages.

A group of pharmacists at University Hospital provide this same service to patients being treated in various specialties, such as oncology, surgery, emergency medicine, cardiology, neurology and transplant.
Pence says these unique collaborations provide an added service to patients who may be confused about their prescriptions and aid in stopping harmful drug reactions and misuse of medication in the beginning stages.

“Doctors often can’t see patients to monitor their medication compliance as often as they like,” she says. “By collaborating, we, as a team, can optimize drug therapies. Studies have shown that patients experience better outcomes with less adverse affects when this sort of help is available.

“We have the flexibility to see these patients more frequently to monitor drug interaction and explain the medication and its purpose to patients.”

Physicians, like Eric Warm, MD, a UC Health internist who sees patients in the Hoxworth clinic, are pleased with this partnership as well.

“Medicine is becoming a team sport,” Warm says. “Physicians need to engage other practitioners in caring for our patients. This is a textbook example of teamwork done well.”

Pence says the team focuses on insulin management, smoking cessation, blood pressure management and anticoagulation medications, or blood thinners.

“The management of some of these medicines could mean the difference between life and death,” she continues. “We really have to fine-tune these therapies to ensure the patient is receiving the appropriate dose. This is all part of optimizing the health of our patients.”

And it seems to be working.

In a recent survey conducted by the team, patients rated the overall effectiveness and satisfaction with the clinic as 4.95 out of 5. 

But Pence says she believes it isn’t just her team’s pharmacological expertise that is making patients happy and healthy.

“I think that social support makes a world of difference to our patients,” she says. “Many of our patients are low-income and are on Medicaid. Some of them are illiterate. These are patients who have other life stressors to tend to without worrying about their medications. We are here to help them and listen—and hold them accountable for their health.”

Sharon Wright, another clinical pharmacist in the clinic, says her job is rewarding in every way.
“Some of these patients don’t have anyone to help them,” she says. “We educate them so that they can gain the independence and self-esteem necessary to care for themselves at home.”

“It’s a satisfaction that is hard to explain,” Pence adds. “I love seeing the improved results each week. It’s more than just giving these patients a bottle of medicine. It’s making a difference in their lives, as a whole.” 

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