This article is sponsored by BetterRX. In this Voices Interview, Hospice News sits down with Rebecca Christensen, Director of Clinical Services at BetterRX, to talk about the keys to achieving the most efficient patient care. She explains the importance of being able to provide immediate solutions with organized processes in the rapidly transforming hospice landscape, and she breaks down how BetterRX is helping providers navigate the most pressing challenges in today’s health care environment.
Hospice News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?
Rebecca Christensen: Before specializing in hospice care, I spent a considerable amount of time in long-term care. In that role, I personally witnessed the challenges faced by patients before they transitioned to hospice. That experience helped shape my ability to take a holistic approach to caring for hospice patients, and I still draw on it today. One aspect I emphasize is reducing the number of medications they are taking, as it significantly enhances their quality of life. I have observed firsthand the impact of excessive medication, not only on the patient, but also on the overall management of their care. By prioritizing this area, I can effectively channel my energy in providing excellent hospice care.
Why are you passionate about hospice?
I’ve seen how hospice care can profoundly affect families, and I have a personal connection to hospice as well. Several years ago, my grandfather was in hospice, and throughout his experience, he was extremely agitated and anxious. However, everything changed when a compassionate hospice nurse approached my grandmother and asked her a simple question: “Have you told him you’re going to be okay?”
Moved by this suggestion, my grandmother went to my grandfather and reassured him. Miraculously, he immediately settled down, finding peace in his final moments. It was a remarkable transformation facilitated by the attentiveness of that hospice nurse, who recognized the existential pain many hospice patients endure. This experience further ignited my passion for hospice care.
My grandparents were high school sweethearts and had been married for nearly 70 years. Witnessing the profound impact that the nurse’s words had on my grandfather was nothing short of amazing. It reinforced my commitment to making a difference in the lives of hospice patients and their families.
Why is it important for a hospice pharmacist to be available 24/7?
Hospice care knows no boundaries of time as it extends far beyond the conventional 9-to-5 schedule. An example of this occurred just last night when I received a call about a patient experiencing a pain crisis at nine o’clock on a Sunday night. It was essential to provide guidance and comfort to the patient even during those late hours. As a hospice professional, part of my role is to be readily available to support the nurses working on the front lines. When an issue arises, it is crucial to swiftly direct and assist them in delivering the necessary care.
Hospice care operates around the clock, and we as partners in hospice care must be prepared to be available 24/7. Our responsibility is to reach the patient promptly and be there for the hospice nurses when they require immediate assistance. By doing so, we alleviate their concerns and prevent them from anxiously pondering over how to care for the patient in need. Being that dependable voice in critical situations is an integral part of our role as hospice care partners.
Why is it important to be readily available rather than responding to messages, and what is the difference between the two?
Leaving a message in such critical situations not only instills anxiety in the hospice nurse, but also affects the families who are witnessing their loved ones endure a painful experience. I recall an incident involving a 52-year-old hospice patient where the nurse called me, and I could hear the patient crying for her mom in the background. The pain and anguish in her voice were heart-wrenching.
In moments like these, it is vital to be available immediately, to answer the phone promptly. This allows me to take immediate action by contacting the pharmacy or the hospice pharmacist, seeking an immediate solution. It is essential to work as a cohesive team, united in our goal of bringing peace to the patient who finds themselves in such a distressing situation. It’s not just about the patient, it’s also about providing support and solace to their loved ones who are witnessing their beloved family member struggle.
Through collaborative efforts, we were able to provide the necessary care to that patient, ensuring she received the comfort she desperately needed. As a result, she was able to calm down and experience a peaceful passing. This is precisely why it is crucial to pick up the phone immediately, as every second counts in such critical situations.
How does your role at BetterRX help local pharmacies?
The advantage of our hospice experience is two-fold. Firstly, it enables us to think outside the box when addressing medication needs. Local pharmacies that fulfill prescriptions often lack the specialized knowledge and experience required to approach unique situations creatively. By taking on consultation calls for them, we alleviate this limitation. Consequently, local pharmacies can focus on expediting the delivery of medications and meeting the urgent needs of patients. The faster the medications reach the patients, the sooner they can find comfort.
Having worked at various pharmacies, such as Walmart, I am familiar with the constant ringing of phones and the overwhelming workload. By shouldering the responsibility of these consultation calls, we relieve the burden on retail pharmacists. They can then prioritize the task of dispensing medications promptly, rather than getting caught up in returning calls or researching solutions for poorly managed patient cases.
To illustrate, I recently received a call regarding a medication shortage. The retail pharmacist informed me that rectal administration was not an option, whereas, in reality, it was. This incident highlights the limitation faced by local pharmacies in thinking outside the box due to a lack of expertise.
Rounding out 2023 and the years to come, what would be your advice to hospices who are trying to overcome pharmacy challenges?
I advise seeking a hospice pharmacy partner who genuinely supports the hospice’s goal of providing a comfortable and dignified passing. Along with ensuring patient care, the hospice pharmacy partner must provide the technology and insights to ensure the hospice operates successfully.
In a couple of words, finish this sentence: “In 2023, the hospice industry has been defined by…”
…adaptability and patient focus.
Editor’s Note: This article has been edited for length and clarity.
Nurses love BetterRX’s Connected Rx (CRX) Platform to order, e-Prescribe, and track medications digitally, eliminating phone calls and needless patient suffering. For more information, visit: https://www.betterrx.com
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].