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Virtual Pharmacy: An Integrated Collaborative Redesign Targeting Medication-related Problems in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.

BACKGROUND: Collaborative management of kidney disease relies on coordinated and effective partnerships between multiple providers. Siloed traditional health systems often result in delays, barriers to treatment access, and inefficient monitoring.

METHODS: We conducted a 1-year observational mixed methods study. We included all consecutive referrals except for patients without telephone access. We assessed 4 domains of outcomes: 1. Patient and caregiver experience, 2. Provider experience (e.g., physicians and pharmacists), 3. Clinical outcomes specific to medication-related outcomes (e.g., adherence, adverse drug events [ADEs]), and 4. Value and efficiency (i.e., medication access, defined as time to treatment and resolution of medication reimbursement issues).

RESULTS: Sixty-five patients were referred to the integrated virtual pharmacy (iVRx) model. Most (72%) patients were male. Patients had a median (min, max) age of 60 (27, 85) years and were taking 8 (4, 13) medications. Compared with traditional care delivery models, medication access improved for 56% of participants. Direct home delivery of medication resulted in 91% of patients receiving prescriptions within 2 days of a nephrologist visit. During more than 2000 pharmacist-patient encounters, 208 ADEs were identified that required clinician intervention to prevent patient harm. When these ADEs were classified by severity, 53% were mild, 45% were moderate (eg, delaying dose titration in patients initiated on glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists due to intolerable gastrointestinal side effects), and the remaining 2% of ADEs were severe, meaning clinical intervention was required to prevent a serious outcome (eg, uncontrolled blood pressure, prevention of acute kidney injury). Nephrologists reported high satisfaction with iVRx, citing efficiency, timely response, and collaboration with pharmacists as key facilitators. Of the 65 patient participants, 98% reported being extremely satisfied.

CONCLUSIONS: The iVRx is an acceptable and feasible clinical strategy. Our pilot program was associated with improved kidney care by increasing medication access for patients and avoiding potential harms associated with ADEs.

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