Patient Care Program Hopes to Cut Health Costs

by Kathryn Sill, Public Relations Writer

At a time when high health care costs have become a major roadblock in patient care, a collaborative effort spearheaded by a Cedarville University professor hopes to cut those costs and provide a better patient experience.

Andrew Straw, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice, has begun working with Springfield Regional Medical Center, Rocking Horse Center and several community pharmacies in Springfield to help patients and health care professionals with transitions of care.

To ensure that patients receive proper care throughout the duration of an illness, Straw will be working alongside 16 Cedarville students to guide patients from start to finish.

“One of the biggest factors that contributes to high health care costs is when patients are readmitted to the hospital for the same issues time and time again,” said Straw.“That’s often caused by a lack of communication among caregivers once a patient leaves the hospital after an illness.”

 

Straw says that patient care can often fall off after the initial hospital visit, as post-visit care is handled by many different people, from primary care physicians to pharmacists and other health care agents. The wide array of people involved in care can often make it confusing for patients.

“Often times, you’ll see someone admitted to the hospital after an emergency room visit, and they’re given a new medication to help with an illness,” said Straw. “It’s very common that the individual doesn’t bother to get the medication refilled after they’re discharged from the hospital, because they’re under the impression that it’s meant to be taken temporarily. Other times, patients just fail to adhere to instructions on how to take the medication.”

Straw noted that not taking medications as prescribed is just one of many reasons why patients can be readmitted later for the same illness. A problem that costs the patient both time and money, and can back up hospital emergency rooms.

Through the collaborative effort with Springfield Regional, Rocking Horse Center and Madison Avenue Pharmacy, Straw and his team of students will monitor patient progress beginning with their initial hospital visit.

“It’s really important that any transitions of care program looks at the entire patient experience, from the initial visit, to follow up visits and medication adherence,” said Straw. “We’ll be monitoring patient progress the entire time, and communicating any changes to their health care providers in order to help them take control of their own health.” 

The program will also help identify barriers to patient care, such as lack of transportation, low income and poor health literacy, and will help find ways to combat those barriers.

Straw is also using the program as an opportunity to give professional pharmacy students hands-on experience in a community-focused environment. 

In May, third-year professional student Rebecca Dix (Cedarville, Ohio) will be the first Cedarville student to assist Straw with his initiative. Students will work with Straw in one-month rotations as they learn how to help patients manage their care.

“My role is responsible for looking at potential medication problems for patients at Rocking Horse Center,” said Dix. “I look forward to learning a lot from being involved in the beginning stages of the project and all the work that goes into the startup of a transitions of care program.”

“We’re starting this program from scratch, but I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of support so far,” said Straw. “We might be just a small group of people, but we have the ability to make a huge impact on patients throughout Springfield.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,711 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.