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Written by: Bob Habasevich, PT on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Posted in: Inpatient Rehab

I was talking with some healthcare consultants about the work they were doing with clients on quality and performance improvement.  This group was hired by the pharmaceutical (pharma) industry to prepare for the changing professional expectations and workflow of those on the delivery sides of these services, specifically, managing patient care.

Healthcare is not adequately equipped to ensure that the medications prescribed are optimally effective in achieving the expectations of their use.  For the most part, people simply forget to take medications as prescribed. This causes pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to seek help to improve performance and outcome for this problem.

As we spoke, this parallel with the rehabilitation industry became increasingly evident. My colleague was armed with powerful data of the costs associated with patient noncompliance with following the prescribed plan of care, close to $50 billion annually. With this amount of money at stake, some dramatic changes are being proposed in the way the business of providing care is managed. The first is a movement to increase accountability for patient outcome. Rather than putting this solely upon the physician who prescribes the plan, the pharma industry is outlining a shift to the delivery sector to educate, instruct, monitor and report drug compliance in the population of prescribed users.  The role of the pharmacist is expanded, assuring the therapeutic outcome of all drugs prescribed.  Electronic monitoring systems are in development to coordinate, communicate and provide early response to variance from the plan of care in an attempt to ensure better drug compliance and patient care outcome.

The proposed effect of these initiatives will save significant healthcare costs and improve the outcomes for patients.  In preparation, professional pharmacists and technicians are seeing their workflow change as new and additional requirements burden their daily routines.  Their employers recognize major costs associated with the transformation of the industry and rely on the consultant services to fill the gaps in professional, technical and behavioral resources to meet the requirements.  And while there exists the anticipated change grumblings from labor elements of workflow, additional infrastructure costs and steep learning curves, the pharma industry is undaunted and focused on achieving these transformations in how business will be done.

We in the rehabilitation sectors of healthcare could possibly learn about transforming healthcare from our pharma colleagues should the opportunity ever present itself.