Program evaluation is crucial for Senior PharmAssist. Participant data are collected on an ongoing basis at six-month intervals. The primary focus of the participant evaluation is to assess medication adherence, health services utilization, functional capability and satisfaction. Our first program evaluation, published in the N.C. Medical Journal (March/April 2000), demonstrated that:
- 31% fewer participants used emergency departments and 29% fewer participants stayed overnight in hospitals after being enrolled in Senior PharmAssist for one year.
A second, more exhaustive examination of outcomes confirmed that after two years in our program, participants report:
- a 51% decline in the rate of any hospitalizations and 27% reduction in the rate of any emergency department use.
Participants also report improved perceived health and maintain their ability to perform tasks measuring independence, such as bathing, dressing and taking medications on their own. This evaluation was presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association and published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (Vol. 63 Feb. 15, 2006).
In 2008, Senior PharmAssist hired a consultant to conduct telephone interviews with many of our participants to gather confidential information about their experiences with the program. We have used this information to streamline our interview process and now offer 12-month medication reviews (vs. 6-month) for some senior adults. Also, Senior PharmAssist regularly solicits feedback from physicians, other prescribers, community pharmacists and social service providers with whom we collaborate to gauge how beneficial our work with their patients and clients has been.
We think of program planning as an iterative process that evolves over time. We provide services and programs, ask for feedback from various stakeholders, and then re-design or tweak our interventions. We try to remain open to feedback – positive and constructive – so that we remain a true community-based organization. Our times are changing with regard to federal, state, and other community-based programming, and Senior PharmAssist must remain flexible and responsive to the needs of older adults in Durham.