VA Boston Healthcare System
An Easy PILL to Swallow
When a Veteran is discharged from the hospital, they often regain responsibility for their health care. Often times, this means taking control of medication routines which were once overseen by medical personnel. Medication changes implemented at discharge may be confusing or overwhelming which can impact a Veteran’s ability to manage their medicines at home.
Caregivers are often involved with this critical part of Veterans’ health. Caregivers need to be aware of the updated medication list in order to help patients manage their medicines. This includes setting up medications in a pillbox or other organization systems to help patients remember to take their pills. Because of this, it’s important that both Veterans and caregivers receive medication education.
Aware of this need, the VA Boston Healthcare System has launched the Pharmacological Intervention in Late Life (PILL) Program.
Following discharge from the hospital, a pharmacist contacts the Veteran/caregiver and reviews their medicines. The PILL pharmacist acts as a failsafe for those at highest risk for medication issues by reviewing the new and sometimes more complex medication list and identifying geriatric-specific medication concerns.
The PILL pharmacists will:
• Evaluate medications to ensure they are safe and optimal
• Address discrepancies, concerns, or questions regarding medications
• Contact providers to recommend ways to simplify medication regimens when possible
If there are medication concerns, the PILL pharmacist will follow-up with the Veteran’s primary care or specialty doctor.
An in-person PILL Clinic appointment can also be scheduled if necessary. This visit includes meeting with a pharmacist and geriatrician to review medications. PILL appointments are often requested by the Veteran’s nurse, primary care physician, or specialty doctor. However, Veterans can request a PILL Clinic consult from their provider if they are having difficulty with their medicines.
The PILL program was established to ensure a safe and healthy transition from hospital to home and to instill confidence in Veteran’s/caregiver’s handling of multiple medications. This program has been well received by Veterans, caregivers and VABHS staff, and has gained national recognition from administrators and providers.
“The crucial piece of the program is the collaboration between pharmacy, geriatrics, inpatient teams, primary care teams, and most importantly, the Veterans and caregivers, “ said Dr. Allison Paquin, Clinical Pharmacist. “From a medication standpoint, the team approach is needed in order to make sure patients are safe and healthy at home.”
If you are Veteran or caregiver and would like more information on the PILL Program or have questions about your medication, please call the PILL Clinic voicemail (857)-364-2036.