PHOENIX — As an oncology pharmacy navigator, Kelly Scott Rice, PharmD, has provided medication-related support services to patients and saved her institution over $200,000 per year, according to a presentation at the Association of Community Cancer Centers National Oncology Conference.
Rice is an oncology pharmacy navigator at the Legacy Cancer Institute in Oregon.
“Pharmacists are trusted members of the cancer care team,” Rice said during her presentation. “There’s a lot of literature to support this role, but there was really no literature that we could find at the time of launching this program that specifically addressed the navigation role for pharmacists in cancer programs. So, we identified the need — that’s always the first step — within our cancer program. We needed to expand the role of the pharmacists from the impatient setting into the outpatient setting.”
As an oncology pharmacy navigator, Rice’s responsibilities include to:
- improve patient adherence to medications;
- maintain accurate medicine lists;
- address medication-related symptoms quickly;
- improve overall compliance with treatment plans;
- reduce the risk for drug errors and duplications;
- provide patient and family education;
- lessen the financial burden of a cancer diagnosis; and
- develop new programs and formulary decisions to support patients.
A large portion of Rice’s job is to offer medication reconciliation to patients with cancer. Medication reconciliation, also known as “med rec,” is the process of “creating the most accurate list possible of all medications a patient is taking — including drug name, dosage, frequency
and route. The goal is to provide correct medications to the patient at all transition points within the hospital,” Rice said.
Through the med rec process, Rice’s team discovered that 98.5% of patients had incomplete medication lists. Patients were taking on average 13 different medication and supplements.
“Cancer patients are often on many medications and the vast majority have inaccurate medication lists,” Rice said. “Outpatient med rec done for these patients is a really vital role of our pharmacy navigator.”
According to Rice, her role as oncology pharmacy navigator saved Legacy Cancer Institute $237,000 in the first year and $205,380 in the second year.
“Every year since then we’ve been able to save $200,000 to $300,000 through this program,” Rice said.
Over half of patients had a face-to-face consultation with an oncology pharmacy navigator. Referrals increased by 50% from year 1 to year 2.
“Patient education is a critical part of what we do. We also do side effect management for chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy and even about opioids,” Rice said. “We believe this is an innovative program that many cancer programs can benefit from this addition of an oncology pharmacist and it’s helped distinguish our cancer program, helped us be accredited and awarded awards like the [ACCC Innovators Award], but most importantly it benefits the cancer patients that we serve.” – by Cassie Homer
Rice KS. The oncology pharmacy navigator: A new best practice model for managing medications. Presented at: ACCC National Oncology Conference; Oct. 17-19, 2018; Phoenix.
Disclosure: Rice reports no relevant financial disclosures.