Making healthcare transitions easier and more cost-effective.
When individuals are released from incarceration, or when they participate in re-entry programs, the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare requires that patients’ health needs be met during their transition back into the community.
The InMedRx prescription voucher system provides re-entry participants and newly released individuals with timely and convenient access to the medications they require to manage their health conditions. InMedRx offers a network of more than 70,000 pharmacies with hours and locations that can serve patients anywhere in the nation at any hour of the day.
Compassionate and cost-effective post-release discharge planning for people ending incarceration is an industry-wide challenge, according to William P. Kissel, MS, CCHP/MP, Senior Vice President of Correct Care Solutions (CCS) Jail Operations, headquartered in Nashville. CCS provides medical and behavioral health services for thousands of patients in hospitals as well as local, state, and federal correctional facilities.
Learning to manage health conditions upon release includes finding a doctor and having prescriptions filled. InMedRx supports re-entry programs by providing a pharmacy voucher system and a comprehensive pharmacy network for participating patients to use. “Ideally, we want to make sure that we have a system in place where patients who are discharging from our facilities have timely access to their medications when they get out,” Kissel said.
The average length of stay in a jail is around 20 days; individuals may be released at any hour and often without much advance notice. This lack of scheduling makes it difficult for the institutional healthcare provider to be prepared for a patient’s departure, including release medications.
When people are released, simply having a prescription or medication bottle in hand may not be enough to guarantee that patients will adhere to a treatment plan. CCS pays for release drugs as part of their agreement with the facilities they serve, and noncompliance is costly. Compliance is crucial, not only to save healthcare dollars and ensure patients maintain their health status post-release, but also to prevent abandoned prescription drugs from becoming hazardous.
“I have seen drugs discarded on the ground outside of jails,” Kissel said. “These medications can be a real safety issue – who knows who might find them?”
CCS had already contracted with InMedRx to help patients maintain their health when
Kissel joined the company five years ago. They are now working to implement the release
medication voucher system across the facilities they serve. “Our pharmacy director had
previous experience with InMedRx,” he said. “We have had nothing but positive results
from them, and I don’t need to shop for another company.”
Unfortunately, the time between discharge and seeing a community provider can be lengthy, particularly for behavioral health issues. Within an imperfect system, however, InMedRx offers advantages. Most release prescriptions cover seven to 10 days of medication. In some cases, certain medications provided via InMedRx may be covered for 30 days with one or two refills.
Because all major chains and most independent pharmacies participate in the InMedRx program, it is easy for patients to locate a pharmacy wherever they are upon release. “With InMedRx, we can make sure pharmacy options are on common bus lines,” Kissel said. “And there are 24-hour pharmacies on the list as well, which is important, because people are released [from jail] at all times of day. Patients choose the one best for them.”
Data from CCS facilities using InMedRx show prescription pick-up rates ranging from 15%
to 50%. While CCS and InMedRx would like to see higher rates of compliance, a benefit
of the system is that CCS is no longer paying for prescriptions that were previously
abandoned. According to InMedRx, they have been able to help correctional clients
decrease the cost of release medication programs by as much as 30 percent, while also
facilitating a smoother return to the community for patients.
A patient who willingly visits a pharmacy post-release to fill a prescription is much more likely to take that drug as prescribed. This approach prevents wasted medications and keeps prescription drugs out of the wrong hands. “It also connects that newly released person with a pharmacist in their community,” Kissel said, providing an important opportunity for them to develop a healthcare relationship they may never have had previously.
Correctional healthcare providers are working every day to improve continuity of care for patients before and after release. InMedRx offers a step in the right direction by connecting patients in a timely and accessible way with the medications they need once they have transitioned out of jail.
“They provide a very bright solution to address an industry problem,” Kissel said. “Using InMedRx makes better business sense, but it also makes better patient sense.”