With as many as 120 patients per day at its ED, emergency physicians at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center keep pretty busy.
That frantic pace makes it hard to complete tedious, yet critical processes like performing a thorough medication reconciliation for patients being triaged in the emergency department.
“Medication reconciliation has been really problematic when it comes to compliance in the ED,” said Dr. Hanson Hsu, attending physician in Weill Cornell’s ED. “We were attempting to do medication reconciliation, but it’s like we were just checking another box in the electronic health record.”
And even though pharmacists were available to help, their ability to reach many patients was limited given the time-consuming nature of the process. But performing the task can reduce the likelihood a patient will experience an adverse drug event, one of the most common safety errors in hospitals. Nearly 5% of hospitalized patients will experience an adverse drug event and they account for roughly 700,000 ED visits annually.
Intrigued by the capabilities of New York-Presbyterian’s growing telehealth team, the pharmacists in early 2018 approached them asking how the technology can be used to conduct medication reconciliations.
“It made sense for us to put our heads together to see … how we could reach more patients with medication reconciliation,” said Diana Kohlberg, project lead of IT-Innovation at New York-Presbyterian.
As a result of those discussions, the tele-medication reconciliation program launched in August. The program enlists pharmacy technicians or pharmacy interns at New York-Presbyterian to conduct virtual consultations with patients about their medications before they see a doctor. The remote team is available across multiple ED sites and outpatient units, said Hanlin Li, clinical pharmacy manager of ambulatory care at New York-Presbyterian’s Columbia University Medical Center.