Improving the healthcare continuum through innovative pharmacy practice

Akers with studentsSPOKANE, Wash. – Pharmacist Josh Akers spoke with student pharmacists on October 20 about improving patient care across the many levels, service locations and options, and different referral networks that make up what is referred to as the health care continuum. The presentation was part of the Washington State University College of Pharmacy Preparing for Your Career in Pharmacy Seminar Series. The purpose of the seminar series is to expose student pharmacists to career opportunities and leaders within those fields.

“The care continuum is so important and a huge opportunity for pharmacists,” said Akers.

One such opportunity is the Kelley-Ross Pharmacy Group’s In-Home Medication Coaching program in partnership with Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle. This program helps teach patients how to properly follow their prescribed drug regimens once they are home from the hospital.

“There are many reasons for medication non-adherence,” said Akers. Non-adherence is the term used by health care providers to describe a variety of circumstances in which patients do not take their medications in the way they were instructed. This could include not finishing all the pills in their prescriptions, taking pills out of order, forgetting to take pills, or taking more pills at once then prescribed. For patients who are on multiple medications at once, which is common immediately after a hospital stay, these types of non-adherence can lead to potentially harmful drug interactions or toxicity that can land patients back in the hospital.

Through home visits, pharmacists are able to learn patients’ lifestyles, answer any questions and help them set goals for improving their health.

According to Akers, this program has been extremely successful. The hospital readmission rate for the patient group studied decreased from 22 percent to eight percent after receiving in-home medication counseling from a pharmacist.

This groundbreaking work has not gone unnoticed; this year Akers received the Innovative Pharmacy Practice Award from the Washington State Pharmacy Association. In addition, the Kelley-Ross Pharmacy Group was awarded the 2016 American Pharmacists Association Pinnacle Award for Group Practice.

Akers is a Washington State University alumnus. He is currently the manager of the Kelley-Ross Clinical Pharmacy Institute and Residency Program Director for the Kelley-Ross Community Pharmacy Residency Program in Seattle. In this position he helps create innovative pharmacy practice models.

The WSU pharmacy seminars are funded through the Dean’s Fund for Excellence and the college’s community partner, the Spokane Teachers Credit Union. For information on participating in the career seminar series, or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence to help expose WSU student pharmacists to thought-leaders and industry innovators, contact the College of Pharmacy advancement office at or 509-358-7651.