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Pharmacy Collaboration leads to better patient outcomes and cost savings

The saying “two heads are better than one” couldn't be more appropriate when explaining the success of the Pharmacy Collaboration between Atlantic Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in Morristown, N.J. and Horizon. In just one year, the collaboration has resulted in more than $1.6 million in medication cost savings — a 9:1 return on investment (ROI) — and significant improvement in patient safety, outcomes and quality of care. The Pharmacy Collaboration is part of Atlantic ACO's participation in Horizon's Value-Based Program.

Anjali Kakwani, Pharm.D., BCPS, CACP, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, leads the Pharmacy Collaboration at Atlantic ACO, which comprises more than 1,700 physician participants who are affiliated with Atlantic Health System. Her expertise lies in clinical pharmacy services for patient populations. She works directly with Cassidy Delaney, Pharm.D., a clinical pharmacist at Horizon, who collaborates full-time with Atlantic ACO and brings managed care expertise to the program. Together, they share knowledge and best practices, while striving to optimize patient outreach and outcomes.

As part of their work, they review medication treatments for high-risk patients and identify any medication management issues. They also consult with doctors and other providers on a patient's care management team to ensure the patient gets the appropriate treatment.

“By collaborating, we're able to piece together the full picture for the patient. Not every health care provider is able to see the full picture,” Anjali says. “It helps to connect all the dots from a clinical perspective on my end and a follow-through perspective for the patient. Cassidy provides a more intricate level of detail, so that we can make sure the patient is getting the optimal medications they need to best heal their disease and condition.”

A patient case in point

For example, Anjali and Cassidy have seen success in helping patients with diabetes to not only address issues such as high A1C and triglyceride levels, but also helping them to better adhere to their insulin therapy. Together, Anjali and Cassidy have identified opportunities for patients to manage and optimize the medications – from Cassidy finding medications that were more affordable or identifying other barriers to medication adherence, to Anjali identifying specific medications that work best for a patient, and working with a patient's physicians to develop an individualized treatment plan.

“From a health system perspective, the collaboration is really operationalizing how we provide comprehensive medication management services. A patient's medication therapy plan is a really important and vital aspect of their health care,” Anjali says.

A win-win for everyone

The Pharmacy Collaboration helps improve communication and increase access to data for everyone participating. It facilitates a data-driven, multi-disciplinary approach to patient care. With access to real-time analytics and population health management tools, and an interface to work directly with providers, Anjali and Cassidy can present actionable data to providers for appropriate interventions, which can be utilized to achieve improved patient outcomes.

“Population management through multi-disciplinary teams is the key driver for success,” said Saira Jan, M.S., Pharm.D., Vice-President and Chief Pharmacy Officer, Horizon. “It's the credibility of the providers and our collaboration with them that make this a success story.”

“Medication therapy management has a tremendous impact on improving patient quality outcomes, experience of care and health care affordability,” said James E. Barr, M.D., Vice-President of Physician Value-Based Programs and Chief Medical Officer of Accountable Care Organizations, Atlantic Health System. “Our collaboration with Horizon removes the barriers of information sharing and aligns strategic priorities. Clinical Pharmacists from each organization use analytics to prioritize efforts and coordinate provider and patient outreach efforts. This is how health care should work.”

In addition to Atlantic ACO, Horizon's Pharmacy team is collaborating with other health care systems. The goal is to provide actionable data and pharmacy support to address emerging drug trends and help the systems succeed in their value-based contracts.

The collaboration with Atlantic ACO yielded favorable results.

“We tripled our goal in savings for the year. Not only that, we have been able to reach out to hundreds of patients through our different initiatives. We exceeded our expectations on how many patient lives we were able to positively impact,” Cassidy says.