Bath Community Hospital – The Pharmacy Connection

Hot Springs, VA
December 2017

Bath Community Hospital, located in Hot Springs, is in Bath County – a rural frontier designation. Bath County’s average age is older than the state and national averages. This aging population will grow, especially in the 55 to 84 age categories over the next five years. This in itself may cause a strain on health care resources available in the community. Bath Community Hospital takes a proactive view of this opportunity and strategizes its plan to build more collaboration with public programs or private programs to meet the needs of the chronically ill and aging population. Bath County is much like Virginia’s 37 rural counties with higher than state and national averages of children living in poverty-stricken homes, and higher incidences of diabetes deaths, heart disease deaths, and chronic lower-respiratory deaths.

Before 1997, Bath Community Hospital provided medication assistance to low-income individuals through local churches and community organizations, along with individual pharmaceutical companies. The process, though rewarding, was arduous. Hospital leaders recognized early on that this approach was not sufficient; as a result, contributing and developing sustainable assistance for this fragile population became a mission. To this end, Bath Community Hospital began a partnership with the Virginia Health Care Foundation, creator of The Pharmacy Connection (TPC).

TPC is a web-based software program that helps provide prescription medications to chronically ill, uninsured individuals throughout Virginia and in selected other states. The program’s web-based software helps streamline the application process for pharmaceutical companies’ Patient Assistance Programs(PAPs), through which pharmaceutical manufacturers supply free brand-name medications for eligible patients. Specifically, TCP:

  • Dramatically reduces the administrative time required to complete the application process to these programs
  • Automatically determines if a patient meets the eligibility requirements of the PAP to which he/she is applying
  • Tracks the status of all applications
  • Provides automatic reminders when it’s time for a patient to reapply to the PAP, ensuring that the reapplication is submitted before the patient’s medications are depleted
  • Generates required reports and streamlines paperwork
  • Helps more low-income, chronically ill patients get the medications they need to stay healthy

TPC is the gateway to 280 classes of medications, covering chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and clinical depression.

The Pharmacy Connection has assisted 586 unduplicated patients with 6,186 prescriptions since Bath Community Hospital began partnering with the program in 1998. Close to 2,000 prescriptions are obtained annually for this vulnerable population. Each year, 35 to 50 patients are served through the program.

Lessons Learned
The Pharmacy Connection greatly reduces the administration time required to complete the application process to the individual pharmaceutical programs, ensuring that low-income, chronically ill patients get the medications they need to stay healthy. With the inception of Medicare Part D over the last few years, this program has assisted with the coverage gap known as the donut hole.

Bath Community Hospital recognizes the need for individuals to maintain health; as the county ages, the incidences of chronic illnesses rise. Rural Virginia’s age-adjusted disease rates are often higher than the statewide averages. For example, diabetes deaths in rural areas are 30 percent higher, heart disease deaths are 34 percent higher, and chronic lower respiratory disease deaths are 59 percent higher. Medications for these illnesses are the majority of medications requested.

Future Goals
Bath Community Hospital will continue its mission in assisting the low-income, chronically ill population. This program mostly reaches the uninsured and the underinsured. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has seen decreases in the use of The Pharmacy Connection, as increased coverage of prescriptions has been noticed. Planning for future outreach may include implementation of integration in the hospital-owned rural health clinic.

Contact: Pat Foutz
Executive Director, Clinical Support Services
Telephone: 540-839-7055