Successful Medication Reconciliation Hinges on Access to Patient's Medication History

When a patient arrives at a hospital, clinicians need to know: what prescription medications the individual is currently taking and what medications the patient has been treated with in the past. Without this information, it's pretty difficult to follow medicine's familiar "first do no harm" edict. 
Unfortunately, according to Reubin Felkey, vice president of business development at Health Care Systems (HCS), Montgomery, Ala., getting an accurate medication history when patients arrive at health facilities as well as during care transitions is a difficult undertaking for clinicians. Frequently, patients do not know exactly what medications and dosages they are taking and sometimes they cannot communicate at all due to their physical condition, especially if they are seeking emergency care. Complicating matters more is the fact that trying to verify medication histories by calling pharmacies or primary care physicians often takes considerable time, something that is often in short supply when trying to tend to the immediate needs of patients.
Indeed, not having medication information electronically available in real time often spells trouble for patients. Consider the following: More than 40 percent of medication errors on average result from inadequate medication reconciliation, the process of comparing medications that the patient is taking with medications that the clinician is about to provide so as to avoid harmful interactions. Additionally, more than 770,000 people die or are injured annually from adverse drug events (ADEs) and 23 percent of patients who are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge have had an ADE as either a primary or secondary diagnosis. 
To improve overall patient safety, HCS needed to find a way to provide clinicians with up-to-date, accurate medication information in real time. HCS chose to leverage Surescripts Medication History for Hospitals, a service that provides access to medication history data for more than 210 million covered lives through connections with the nation's pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers. 
The service provides real-time access to more comprehensive medication claims and pharmacy fill information, into HCS Medication Reconciliation solution. Surescripts helps to overcome medication reconciliation challenges by automatically acquiring medication history from a full year’s worth of prescription data – and then delivering this history within 60 seconds to the HCS electronic medication reconciliation solution. In addition, this solution analyzes the medication history, checking for interactions, duplicate therapy and compliance with treatment protocols. As a result, providers using the medication reconciliation solution get more complete and accurate medication histories, enabling them to make more informed decisions across care transitions to help ensure patient safety.  
"Now with electronic medication history, clinicians can quickly move forward with confidence. Previously, clinicians frequently had to take a chance and start medical treatment without knowing their full medication histories. Unfortunately, patient safety often may have been compromised. Now, the medication history is presented to clinicians right at the point of care, making it possible to quickly get patients the care they need without doing undue harm," Felkey says. 
Indeed, healthcare providers that use the HCS electronic medication reconciliation solution have experienced a variety of patient safety benefits including: 
  • 39% improvement in medication history accuracy at ER admission
  • 22% fewer home medication orders missed during hospital inpatient treatment 
  • 72% medication error reduction in patient discharge reports
  • About 70% reduction of medication reconciliation time at discharge 
These results illustrate how access to comprehensive electronic medication history is improving medication reconciliation and in turn helping hospitals deliver safer patient care.  
For more information about Medication History for Hospitals, visit