Conference Coverage

Pharmacist-led clinic boosted hypertension control after discharge



– Pharmacist-physician collaboration on hypertension management was effective for controlling blood pressure in patients discharged from an urban ED, results from a pilot study showed.

Dr. Britanny Stewart, of the department of pharmacy practice at Wayne State University, Detroit Doug Brunk/MDedge News

Dr. Britanny Stewart

“Hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular events and stroke in this country,” Brittany Stewart, RD, PharmD, said at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “The good news is that we’re not trying to figure out how to treat this disease, but the bad news is that we have 50% of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure.”

“Pharmacists are highly accessible in the community in outpatient settings,” Dr. Stewart of the department of pharmacy practice at Wayne State University, Detroit, said. “This is where ED providers can really integrate and work on a team to refer patients for their chronic diseases on an outpatient basis.”

In a prospective pilot trial, Dr. Stewart and her colleagues recruited 89 patients with uncontrolled hypertension who presented to the ED at Wayne State during May 24, 2017–May 18, 2018. Their average age was 43 years, 51% were male, 94% were black, 51% were current smokers, the mean body mass index was 34.5 kg/m2, and 18% had no health insurance.

“In Detroit, we have significant health disparities with our patient population,” she said. “They are high utilizers of the emergency department, not only for their acute illness but for chronic illness as well. There are several studies showing that team-based care has improved hypertension and blood pressure control. However, the adoption and sustainability of these models haven’t really taken off in our health care landscape yet.”

Over a period of 1.5 years, Dr. Stewart and two physicians developed a transitional care clinic, based on a collaborative practice agreement with emergency physicians. Per protocol, five follow-up visits were planned in an outpatient pharmacy clinic, where Dr. Stewart initiated and titrated antihypertensive medications and handled refills.

“The physician does not have to physically be at the clinic,” she said. “We work closely over the phone to make the best decisions, but it’s not typical ambulatory care where the physician has to be sitting right next to the pharmacist to make the best decisions for the patients.” The primary outcome was the transitional care clinic’s impact on blood pressure.

Dr. Stewart reported results from 47 medication interventions that were provided over 97 follow-up visits. The researchers found that the median blood pressure dropped from an initial reading of 160/102 mm Hg to 130/93 mm Hg by the fifth transitional care clinic visit. Across all patients, systolic blood pressure decreased by an average of 48 mm Hg. “I don’t think we were surprised by these results; we are getting people very much in need down to their blood pressure goals,” she said. “By the end of the study, patients were on an average of three antihypertensive medications.”

She and her colleagues plan to conduct a larger randomized, clinical trial of this care model. The research was supported by a faculty award from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University and by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation.

Source: Brody A et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2018 Oct;72;4:S36-7. doi. 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2018.08.088.

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