The last thing a patient wants to do after being discharged from outpatient surgery is to try to find an open pharmacy and then wait – in pain -- while a pharmacy fills a prescription. An innovative program in the SurgiCentre at Penn Medicine’s Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine ensures patients never need to face that scenario. Instead, their filled prescriptions are ready to go when they leave – they’re even delivered straight to patients in the Recovery unit.
The Prescription Drug Program came about through a collaboration among SurgiCentre nurses, surgeons and phamacists. They used patient feedback from focus groups to hone in on the real needs of same-day surgery patients. “Our goals were patient satisfaction and patient safety,” said Joyce Stengel, SurgiCentre nurse manager.
How does the program work? Nurses discuss the option of filling the prescription -– which are typically low-cost generic medications that are commonly used after surgeries -- while the patient is in pre-op. “When we tell patients that the cost for most meds is only a five dollar co-pay, many ask, ‘What’s the catch?!’” said Kate Farrell, professional development specialist.
The personalized service helps ensure that patients will take their medications properly and without any delay, as might be the case among patients who struggle with transportation and might have trouble filling their prescriptions quickly.
This initiative is one of many at Penn Medicine that focus on patient- and family-centered care. At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, a Patient and Family Advisory Council comprising former patients and family members meets monthly to discuss ways to improve the patient experience. Their focus ranges on everything from food patients are served to communication between patients and their care teams.
Not surprisingly, the prescription program is a hit with patients. “Numbers show that they love it,” said Eric Wertman, a certified operating room nurse. Indeed, more than 3,500 -– almost 80 percent –- of SurgiCentre patients took advantage of the program between July 2011 and February 2012. Comments provided during post-op phone calls and in patient satisfaction surveys clearly show their enthusiasm:
- “The prescription program is outstanding. Having it right there saves time when driving home and avoids inconveniencing my family to have to go to the drugstore.”
- “An excellent idea! Very convenient.”
- “Having a prescription filled for $5 and handed to you before you leave is wonderful. My visit here was the best I’ve ever had in any health-care facility.”