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School of Pharmacy to Train XLHealth Corp. Pharmacists Serving Chronically Ill

The School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) has signed a new kind of agreement with XLHealth Corp. to allow the School's faculty to provide training to those XLHealth clinical pharmacists conducting medication management services to patients enrolled in the company's Medicare health plan.

At the start of the program, as many as eight of the School's faculty will be training company pharmacists on expanded health care activities, says David Roffman, PharmD, a professor in the School's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and the department's program coordinator.

XLHealth is a Baltimore-based company focused on improving the health care of chronically ill seniors. Under the agreement, clinical pharmacists would participate in approximately 12 sessions taught by the School's faculty during the next year, each covering a topic related to the drug therapy needs of seniors with chronic illness. The company provides medication therapy management services to more than 66,000 Medicare members in six states. Members with chronic illnesses or other complex health care needs have the option to participate in the plan's "PharmAssist" program, which includes consultation with a clinical pharmacist to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their medication needs.

The partnership agreement, the first of its kind for the School, was created by Roffman and Andrea Hershey, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy at XLHealth, who is a 1991 graduate of the School. Roffman says the program "is consistent with the Pharmacy Practice and Science department mission to extend into health care activities to a different level. I hope it will be the first of other similar partnerships.

"We are very excited about this. The end game for XLHealth is to improve the levels of health care for patients. In the short term, there could be some increase in prescription costs for patients, but in the long run, it may well keep them out of the hospital and have them avoid much more money being spent on acute illnesses."

Says Hershey, "The majority of our members have extensive medication regimens, which are often difficult to manage. Teaming up with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy will be beneficial to our staff, but ultimately our members will reap the greatest rewards through the specialized care and counseling they will be receiving."

The company's health care plan, Care Improvement Plus, is a provider of Medicare Advantage health plans and is committed to delivering quality health care benefits and serving the underserved - people whose well-being can be dependent on the good health decisions they make.

"We are thrilled to be able to provide training for Care Improvement Plus' team and we applaud XLHealth's innovative approach to providing members with specialty pharmacy support," says Roffman. "With a growing number of seniors on upward of eight or more medications, proper training and education is as important as ever to effective pharmacotherapeutic practice."

Care Improvement Plus' PharmAssist program is staffed by experienced clinical pharmacists who perform high level pharmacotherapy reviews. Reviews include assessing members' complete medication profiles to detect potential safety concerns, such as drug interaction issues and medication duplications, as well as provide consultation on potential gaps in therapy, medication education, adherence monitoring, and assistance with nonprescription medications.

Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, professor and PPS chair, says, "As a top 10 school of pharmacy, the University of Maryland is committed to creating partnerships that combine the expertise of its faculty with innovative patient care initiatives that ultimately improve health care outcomes."

The School will receive compensation for the services rendered by the faculty. Part of the money will go to the department and part to revolving funds for each of the participating faculty members to be used in their teaching of students.

About XLHealth Corporation
XLHealth Corp. (www.xlhealth.com ) is the owner and operator of Care Improvement Plus (www.careimprovementplus.com), a Medicare Advantage health plan committed to delivering quality health care benefits and serving the underserved. Focused on improving patient outcomes and reducing health care spending, Care Improvement Plus provides comprehensive Medicare coverage and a Part D prescription drug benefit, plus additional services such as dental and vision coverage, and care management support.

About the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
Founded in 1841, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is the fourth oldest school of pharmacy in the nation. The School is a thriving center for professional and graduate education, pharmaceutical care, research, and community service. Ranking ninth in the nation, the School strives to improve the health and well-being of society by aiding in the discovery, development, and use of medicines. The School's PharmD program expanded to the Universities at Shady Grove in Montgomery County in the fall of 2007, and construction is nearing completion for a $67 million, seven-story building adjacent to the School's Pharmacy Hall.

Posting Date: 03/30/2010
Contact Name: Steve Berberich
Contact Phone: 410-706-0023
Contact Email: sberb001@umaryland.edu