October 8, 2019— When the health professionals at Kootenai Health send a patient home, one of their main goals is not to see that patient back in the hospital again any time soon. That’s why the 299-bed medical center in rural northern Idaho utilizes its 340B savings to ensure that discharged patients obtain the medications they need to stay healthy at home, especially if they can’t afford them.
Patients leaving Kootenai have the option to meet with a social worker to make sure they can pay for the care they received and any medications that they have been prescribed. Those who qualify for assistance receive the medications for free or at a significant discount through 340B, says Jake Chapman, the pharmacy business manager at the health system and the newest profile in our Faces of 340B video series.
Jake shares a perfect example of how 340B benefits everyone in the health care system when he describes how Kootenai treats cardiac catheterization patients. When they are discharged, those patients all go home with a 30-day supply of medication to prevent blood clots, paid for in part by 340B. That practice has led to improved patient health, fewer hospital readmissions, and lower costs for both patients and health insurers.
340B discounts have gone toward helping Kootenai Health offer several crucial service lines to its rural patients, such as a neonatal intensive care unit and a trauma center, that in some years have operated at a financial loss for the system.
But the reach of 340B at Kootenai doesn’t stop at the hospital doors. 340B savings also help employ specialty pharmacists who work at the clinic level to ensure that patients can obtain the drugs they need and take them as directed. Dedicated assistance with such issues as prior authorization, clinical checks, and medication therapy management lead to earlier therapy start times, greater medication compliance, and better patient health outcomes.
“If the 340B program were to go away, I can’t say that any of the programs that we currently are doing right now would be eliminated, because they provide such benefit to our community,” Jake says. “But they would definitely be scaled back in a way that potentially could be harmful for the better health of our community.”
Check out Jake’s video profile at our Faces of 340B website.