This year Pacific pharmacy faculty and doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students have worked tirelessly to transition the Medicare Part D Outreach Clinics to a virtual platform. Beneficiaries can receive valuable health care services from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The services are provided via a videoconferencing platform or by phone.
“During the Part D review, we will use the patients’ current prescription medications, preferred pharmacy(ies) and current subsidy status to review all Medicare prescription drug plan options to identify the plan(s) that would ‘best’ meet their needs,” said Carly A. Ranson ’13, ’17, PharmD, MS, BCGP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice.
Beneficiaries can also take advantage of the potentially lifesaving Medication Therapy Management (MTM) review. “We perform a 12-step comprehensive medication review to ensure that all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are safe to take together while addressing patient concerns and optimizing treatment regimens,” Dr. Ranson said. If any severe medication-related problems are identified, with the patient’s consent, the team contacts the prescriber. During each session, one PharmD student is responsible for the Part D review and one for the MTM review; they swap roles with each subsequent patient. Almost 300 PharmD students will provide services during the 10 virtual events this fall, gaining experiential hours and valuable patient care experience. They expect to serve between 800 and 1,000 patients.
Continuing to provide high-quality patient care was the central focus when transitioning to a virtual environment. “All of our students and team members have undergone extensive training on the use of the new virtual platform and are well-versed in the new process,” said May Chen ’16, ’19, PharmD, MS, BCPS, assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “Our team has also created safeguards to ensure that the appointment is confidential and private.”
The majority of those served by the clinics are over the age of 65 and the team’s goal was to keep the process simple and straightforward from the perspective of those they serve. “Ideally at the end of the intervention, beneficiaries leave feeling empowered and informed about their coverage, their medications, their health and their future,” said Dr. Ranson. “In the era of 2020, peace of mind is a priceless commodity.”
“Ideally at the end of the intervention, beneficiaries leave feeling empowered and informed about their coverage, their medications, their health and their future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, between mid-March and mid-August 2020, over 12.1 million Medicare beneficiaries received services delivered via telehealth. With telehealth, geographic barriers are removed, which is especially beneficial for those who have mobility issues or limited access to transportation. “We’ve had to find ways to maintain continuity of care while keeping ourselves and patients as safe as possible,” said pharmacy practice fellow Nareeta Sharma ’18, PharmD. “Telehealth is a way to help expand a patient’s access to care.”
The reach of the Medicare Part D Outreach Clinics is made possible through the support of community partners, governmental agencies and pharmacist preceptors. Over 80 pharmacists are volunteering their time to precept Pacific students this enrollment season.