Vermont Business Magazine Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging (SVCOA) today announced its implementation of the HomeMeds Medication Safety Program, a nationally-recognized, evidence-based medication management model that is expected to generate a range of benefits for older Vermonters and the healthcare provider network in Bennington and Rutland counties.
“We’re excited to launch HomeMeds in our service area and anticipate the impacts to be significant for older Vermonters who are prescribed multiple medications, as well as local hospitals that often see repeat patient visits as a result of adverse medication interactions and other medication challenges,” said Dana McMahon, Rutland Aging Services Director with SVCOA. “With many older Vermonters living with multiple, chronic conditions, the risks for medication mismanagement, and subsequent, unintended health consequences, are substantial.”
The HomeMeds program, a product of the Partners in Care Foundation (PICF), is based on a multi-step process and supporting software package that works to evaluate an individual’s existing medications - including old or outdated medications, and provide closer, ongoing monitoring of these medications after enrollment in the program.
The program consists of regular, in-home medication assessments by trained professionals such as registered nurses or case managers; appropriate provider intervention and medication removal when applicable; and overarching reviews and recommendations by a client’s physician and geriatric pharmacist. Client participation in the program is entirely consent-based.
HomeMeds, which has been successfully implemented across the United States, was first leveraged in Vermont in 2018 by Age Well, the area agency on aging (AAA) serving Chittenden, Grand Isle, Addison and Franklin counties.
“Medication mismanagement can lead to a host of health complications, ultimately ending in more trips to the emergency room and higher rates of hospitalization,” said Angela Smith-Dieng, State Unit on Aging Director with the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. “HomeMeds helps to lower the risk of these outcomes by flagging potential negative interactions for a physician to consider. We see HomeMeds as a valuable service to be offered by SVCOA, and a strong complement to the person-centered options counseling, case management, nutritious meals and health promotion initiatives already offered by the agency.”
According to PICF, more than 11,000 older adults have had their medications screened for potential risks via the HomeMeds program since 2011. Alarmingly, over 40% of those screened had potential problems. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year there are nearly 100,000 emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events in U.S. adults age 65 years or older; and adults 65 years or older are twice as likely as others to come to emergency departments for adverse drug events and nearly seven times more likely to be hospitalized after an emergency visit.
SVCOA will begin using the HomeMeds model and supporting software effective immediately, but will limit the scale of the implementation until an initial 45-day test phase is complete.
“Initially, the program will be rolled out by our RN Options Counselor to a small set of clients,” said Jennifer Plouffe, Bennington Aging Services Director with SVCOA. “After the first phase, we’ll make any necessary adjustments or improvements before full implementation by all of our fully-trained case managers in May.”
Plouffe noted that in addition to helping prevent common health problems among older Vermonters such as dizziness, falls, and blood pressure issues, and helping to reduce costly patient hospital readmissions, the program will also provide another layer of medication supervision and inventory with respect to preventing opioid abuse.
“Whether it be clients themselves or those around them, the reality is that the senior community is not immune to issues related to opioid misuse,” said Plouffe. “Greater oversight on that front is another added benefit to a program that we believe will bring positive results to older Vermonters and hospitals in our area for years to come.”
Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging exists to be a community force in creating and sustaining opportunities for elders and caregivers in our region to help assure that elders are able to maintain maximum independence and quality of life.
Additional facts about the HomeMeds Program:
· The US Administration for Community Living has awarded HomeMeds with its Highest Evidence Level rating, and chose it for its rigorously screened Aging and Disability Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (ADEPP)
· HomeMeds is an approved Disease Prevention and Health Promotion program
· HomeMeds is included with a strong evidence rating on the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Innovation Exchange
· HomeMeds has been implemented in over 45 sites and 18 states
· HomeMeds has been successfully implemented in area agencies on aging, post-acute care transitions programs, home-delivered meals programs, fall prevention collaboratives, care management programs, housing and assisted living
Source: RUTLAND, Vt. – Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging www.svcoa.org.