Long-term care facilities are facing a barrage of challenges that impact the marketplace and the quality of care they are able to provide. Among these challenges are the growing national opioid crisis and new pharmacy requirements from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is why it’s more important than ever to partner with a dedicated long-term care pharmacy.
According to NIH statistics, more than 47,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. Of these deaths, 17,000 were from use of prescription opioids. The CDC estimates an annual cost of nearly $80 billion in this crisis for treatment, legal expenses, and lost productivity. In response to the crisis, the government has stepped up its scrutiny of prescriber practices, which has caused some confusion over specific rules and even made some physicians reluctant to prescribe opioid-based pain medications at all. The ripple effect is sure to impact senior care facilities, creating treatment delays and the possibility for under-treatment of conditions.
In light of this, it’s crucial to remember that your pharmacy partner can be a valuable resource to your staff by helping with education, medication management, and alternative treatment options.
As experts in medication safety, pharmacists can educate your staff about opioids in general and help clarify CDC policies. They can also demonstrate better ways to monitor patients and recognize signs of an adverse event.
In addition to educating the staff, long-term care pharmacists can also help you develop guidelines for pain management and monitoring. Pharmacist professionals often have practical insights for using pharmacy data to identify patients who may be at a higher risk for addiction or adverse events.
Your pharmacy partner can also collaborate with physicians and nurses to find possible alternative treatments, including non-pharmacological therapies.
In September 2018, CMS issued a final rule requiring nursing homes to perform a monthly drug-regimen review (DRR) for each resident along with a review of their medical charts by pharmacy services.
The American Health Care Association (AHCA) opposed the requirements, claiming it would increase the pharmacists’ workload and pass those added expenses on to the facilities through higher drug costs. But the Blue Ridge Pharmacy team sees these new rules in a different light. This is an excellent opportunity to gather more detailed knowledge of patients and gain deeper insight into their conditions. As long-term care pharmacists, we appreciate the importance of a holistic look at all of a patient’s healthcare needs: including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements.
In addition to the new pharmacy services rules, all LTC facilities must also:
- Develop, implement, and maintain an effective, comprehensive, data-driven quality assurance and performance improvement program that focuses on systems of care, outcomes of care, and quality of life.
- Develop an infection prevention and control program that includes an antibiotic stewardship program.
- Develop and implement baseline care plans for each resident within 48 hours of his or her admission, including the instructions needed to provide effective, person-centered care that meets professional standards of quality care.
While a pharmacist is not required to be on the interdisciplinary team assigned to these tasks, the new rules don’t prohibit them from participating. We believe a pharmacist partner would be a valuable addition to your team.
Blue Ridge Pharmacy has been serving rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living centers in North Carolina since 2005. We are eager to make our experience and expertise available to you as you navigate new regulations and medication concerns. Our focus on long-term care makes us particularly suited to be your partner for the long haul.