For Immediate Release October 21, 2020

The Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation announced today that it has received a $40,420 grant from the Rural Maryland Council to fund the community hospital’s Telepharmacy program.

The UM Charles Regional Medical Center (UM CRMC) Telepharmacy program is a pilot project that will deliver 24/7 medication management services to an estimated 300 patients that live in Charles, St. Mary's, Calvert, and Prince George's counties. The project will utilize telemedicine to expand the hospital's capacity to provide high-risk patients with medication counseling when discharged from the hospital, as well as access to a pharmacist during off-peak hours and post-discharge follow-up medication consultations.

"Following a medication schedule can be challenging for patients with one or more serious chronic conditions, multiple medications, and significant barriers to care," said Noel Cervino, President and CEO of UM CRMC. "By using telepharmacy, we can expand the delivery of pharmaceutical care services and increase the number of patients served."

According to recent figures, about 50% of medications for chronic diseases are not taken as prescribed, and 20-30% of prescription medications are never filled. In the U.S., medication noncompliance and adverse events lead to:

  • An estimated 125,000 premature deaths;
  • Over $300B in avoidable healthcare costs;
  • Nearly 100,000 emergency hospitalizations of adults aged 65 and older each year.

"There are very few programs of this kind in Maryland, especially in rural settings," said Ucheuma Obua, Director of Pharmacy Care at UM CRMC. "This grant will provide funding to purchase the equipment and software necessary to operate the telepharmacy program."

Funding will purchase tablet computers, language software, video cameras, medication management software, remote pharmacist support (for off-peak hours), pharmacist training, and marketing.

The CRMC Foundation will provide matching funding for the grant. With the funding, the program is projected to operate through June 2021.

Eligible patients for the program include those who have been admitted to UM CRMC for emergency or in-patient care, and have a new or existing diagnosis of pneumonia, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, sickle-cell anemia, or a behavioral health condition. Up to 50 patient visits will be conducted per month.

Patients treated for these conditions cover the top five groups for readmission to the hospital. Medication counseling can reduce the chance for an adverse event when the patient returns home, and lower their chance of being readmitted for the same diagnosis.