In March, we announced that we are offering free, open-access to our medication management software, Meds 360°, to healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19. In this blog post, we will discuss how the program is going so far, what we have learned, and how providers are using Meds 360° in the fight against Coronavirus.
It is crazy to think that we have been living in a national state of emergency since March 25th. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the public health of United States, with the CDC reporting nearly 1.5 Million confirmed cases resulting in ~90,000 deaths as of May 18th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was right –we have seen extremely elevated rates of hospitalizations and death, and overload of the public health and the healthcare system. Coastal states most effected by the pandemic are currently experiencing inpatient bed utilization rates of over 50% and ICU bed utilization over 60%. Several states, including Alabama, Georgia, and Maryland reporting at over 70% ICU capacity, as reported by the CDC as of May 19th. This has led to critical supply chain shortages for patients and front-line responders as we wake up to discover ourselves living in the midst of a national tragedy.
A Hopeful Future
The pandemic has come with global uncertainty, fear and anxiety, but like so many of you, we don’t ask ourselves how we’re going to survive, but rather how can we be the most helpful, and in doing so come out on the other side of this ten-fold better. There are many reasons to be hopeful and proud. The mobilization of the nation to do its part to fight against COVID-19 is truly awe inspiring and I have never experienced such widespread community, charity, goodwill, and resilience. Countless people have donated their time to support our front-line responders - doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store clerks, utility workers, small-business owners and employees. You probably are one yourself. There has also been a surge of innovation in the areas of public health, medical technology, and telehealth. Businesses, large and small have also answered the call, offering free or heavily reduced goods, services and technologies to help alleviate the tremendous strain the pandemic has put on us all.
Cureatr is one of those businesses; since March of 2020 we have been offering free, open-access to our medication management solution, Meds 360°, to hospitals, health systems, and provider organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19. Because knowing what medications a patient is actually taking is vitally important information in triaging them away from acute care settings when possible, and keeping them safe when they are admitted. Providers have taken us up on the offer.
Surge in Views of Patients’ Medication Histories in Meds 360°
Since the launch of our COVID-19 response program, we have seen a 20% surge in Meds 360° usage. What normally takes months to contract now takes days, and what normally takes weeks to implement now happens in an afternoon. Thousands of health care providers are using Meds 360° to review the medication histories of tens of thousands of patients in dozens of medical facilities across the United States. These institutions include primary care providers, specialists, hospitals, urgent care centers, risk bearing organizations, and more.
This surge proves that, in a time of crisis, hospitals can overcome the typical barriers of implementing and adopting technology (and we hope they’ll remember that when the world comes back – barriers to innovation are human constructs that can be ignored by people who choose to). But critically, it means that patients are receiving far safer and more informed care. With readily available accurate medication histories, providers have kept patients, healthy or infected, out of overwhelmed medical facilities through enhanced throughput in emergency departments, a reduction in unnecessary medication-related admissions, re-admissions, and ED visits, performing remote post-discharge follow-ups, and identifying patients in danger of drug shortages.
One of our users, Hayley Carter, Pharmacy Director, at Pinnacle Healthcare said –
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Pinnacle Hospital has been primarily focused on reducing hospital utilization in any way possible to keep resources available for COVID-19 response. “With the help of Meds 360°, we have been able to decrease pre-admission medication reconciliation times by up to 20 minutes and catch drug-therapy problems that would have resulted in emergency admissions, ultimately enhancing throughput and helping patients avoid unnecessary admissions.”
Usage by Clinical Function:
This breakdown of Meds 360° users by clinical function shows an encouraging trend that we at Cureatr have been advocating for quite some time, that pharmacists are starting to be more involved in patient care. Pharmacists are among the nation’s most accessible yet underutilized healthcare professionals. They are medication experts, providing patient care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, emergency departments, clinics, community pharmacies, long-term care, the medical home, and physician offices.
With 37% of medication histories being accessed by pharmacists, it is clear that they are being used to support patient care and reduce the burden placed on other care team members during the pandemic.
COVID or not, some patients still carry severe medication risk
The above chart shows a breakdown of the number of prescribers per patient that have been looked up using Meds 360°. We continue to be stunned by the number of patients of all ages, but particularly seniors, that have six of more different prescribers, likely not coordinating with each other. This is Cureatr’s raison d’être – as the number of prescribers increases, the risk of drug interactions, side effects, and non-adherence goes up and up – ask yourself who is coordinating all of those meds for your mom or dad; the answer is likely no one (or you). With Meds 360°, clinicians responsible for performing patient medication reconciliations can now see all prescriptions and providers in one place so they can prescribe safely knowing the entire medication regimen. This has been immensely valuable as Dr. Joseph Ng, Assistant VP of Medical Staff and CMIO at Mather Hospital, states –
“Real-time pharmacy fill data immediately shows us the medications our incoming patients are taking and where they’re getting them so we don’t have to call pharmacies to figure out their current medication lists, which saves us critical time in treatment, helps avoid errors, and leaves already overwhelmed pharmacists alone. An accurate medication reconciliation at admission mitigates preventable extensions of lengths of stay, both crucial in keeping hospital resources available for COVID-19 response.”
Other innovations during the crisis
Cureatr’s ability to support COVID-19 related efforts have blossomed since the crisis began. For example, shortly after the announcement of our Free Meds 360° COVID-19 Response program, our engineers developed COVID-19 alerting capabilities. Based on a cross-section of comorbidities, age and medication history, Cureatr will alert Meds 360° users on a patient's risk level of serious complications due to COVID-19. Of the thousands of patient medication histories reviewed since the launch of our response program, 645 of them have triggered COVID-19 risk alerts, nearly all of whom are age 70 or above.
Jose Maza MD, Medical Director at Innovacare, said –
“The alerts in Meds 360 helped us avoid a hospitalization. I used Meds 360° to see if a patient for whom I had prescribed an important maintenance medication yesterday actually picked it up. I was able to see in the history the next day that he had indeed followed through giving me peace of mind… the alerting in the application makes it easier to discuss information with the patient.”
We’re also leveraging our population-wide analytics platform, Meds 360° for Populations, to perform patient population risk assessments for medical providers. These assessments are used to help identify drug therapy problems and supports proactive recommendations for optimal medication management, prescription refill and renewal activities to avoid therapy gaps, and prioritizes the care of patients at high-risk to experience more severe COVID-19 complications.
In fact, much of the data in this update was generated using our Meds 360° for Populations dashboard. It has enabled us to better see trends and analyze how our solutions are being used and impacting patient care, so we can continue to innovate and improve how we support our front-line responders.
In the same way we made our Meds 360° products free for COVID-19-related use, we put out a call to clinically trained pharmacists to see if they might volunteer to help. Nearly every family has a senior citizen essentially locked down in their house. Are they getting their medications? Is the medication regimen safe and effective? We wondered whether clinical pharmacists would be willing to use our technology products to have telephonic interactions with people like this to make sure.
We received an overwhelming response. Well over 200 pharmacists from all over the country responded to the call and our volunteer telepharmacy program is treating its first patients this week. If you’d like to get access to this for yourself or a loved one, click here and fill out the form and we’ll try to get you in, too.
Number of Volunteer Pharmacists by State
To close out, I wanted to share some quotes from more of our users. The positive feedback from them reminds us of the value of what we are doing, and inspires us to keep doing our part.
“It [Meds 360°] just makes everything so much easier. Patients don’t always know what they are taking. Patients often tell me that they ‘take something for blood pressure. It’s round.’ With Cureatr Meds 360° I can take care of my patients much better, especially COVID patients, since the majority are on respirators and have no family at the bedside.”
- Physician Assistant, White Plains Hospital Cancer Center
"Before using Meds 360°, I did a few manual medication reconciliations. Later that week, I went back and searched those patients in Meds 360° and their medication records matched exactly to what was on paper. This is going to save us a bunch of time."
- Director of Pharmacy, Aspen Valley Hospital
“I have been meaning to find a moment to send a thank you for the revolutionary role that Cureatr has had in our hospital. If you have ever wondered whether your team has contributed to the COVID response, please know that your efforts have had a monumental impact. Our team cannot imagine how we would be safely navigating this crisis without Cureatr. I am sure that same statement could be made in hospitals throughout the country.”
- Chief Medical Communications Officer, University of Pennsylvania
If you’re on the front lines and want access to our Meds 360° medication management tool for free, it’s still available. For more information and to get started using Meds 360° click here.
Thank you for reading this update. I hope you all stay physically and mentally well during this time, and that you continue to seek to help, wherever you can.