Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare Helping Community Clinics and Their Patients Access Affordable Drugs and Faster Lab Results


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/22/2019 --As part of Intermountain Healthcare's ongoing efforts to improve access to care, the healthcare system recently collaborated with two community clinics in Salt Lake City, the Maliheh Free Clinic and the Polizzi Clinic, to help patients access services they need — including free prescription drugs and faster lab results.

Here's how Intermountain has collaborated with the clinics to improve care.

When the Maliheh Free Clinic got news that some national prescription drug discount programs were being discontinued, they reached out to Intermountain for help. Maliheh, which is a primary care clinic for low-income, uninsured patients, is the largest free clinic in Utah. The clinic served approximately 5,300 patients in the past year, and the inability to dispense these drugs would have a big impact on the health of their patients.

"The drugs were for things like treating children who have certain types of epilepsy and experience seizures, treating manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and migraine headaches, and treating excess uric acid in the blood, or hyperuricemia, in patients with gout," said Nathan Peterson, Intermountain's Community Health manager for the Salt Lake City area.

"These are all drugs that help people live the healthiest lives possible," Peterson said. "They're not just pills, but so much more — they represent hope and relief."

Peterson approached the Intermountain Pharmacy Services team, including Buck Stanford, Intermountain's pharmacy operations director, and Barbara Keyser, Intermountain's pharmacy tech supervisor, who recommended that the Maliheh Clinic be added to the Dispensary of Hope program. The program is a partnership between Intermountain Healthcare and a national charitable medication distributor that gives low-income, uninsured patients access to medications free of cost.

Peterson said, "Previously only patients at Intermountain hospitals and clinics could access the Dispensary of Hope program, but Maliheh has been authorized to be the first external partner in Utah to participate. It's a win-win for all of us, as many of these patients come to Intermountain for care at some point."

Another community clinic, the Polizzi Clinic, was also looking for ways to better serve patients, especially with faster lab results. Polizzi is a short-term behavioral health clinic for low-income and uninsured community members. Previously patients at Polizzi had to travel to the Maliheh Clinic for their lab work, which was then picked up and processed by Intermountain's Central Laboratory, sent back to Maliheh — and then finally sent to Polizzi.

"This inefficiency caused a challenge in continuity of care for patients at Polizzi, since many of these patients lack reliable transportation, and it caused delays in their lab work." Peterson said. "It was especially difficult when a patient needed labs, say, for drug testing before they started a job and had challenges getting it done."

The Polizzi Clinic approached the Intermountain Central Laboratory for ideas to improve. The lab team offered to have the Polizzi Clinic's lab work be managed directly by the Central Laboratory, which would remove the Maliheh Clinic lab as an extra step in the care process.

Karen Brownell, executive director of Intermountain's Laboratory Services, said kudos go to Emily Shake, Intermountain's outreach phlebotomy manager, and Trish Olson, an outreach phlebotomy supervisor. "They put together a process so patients can go to any number of draw stations to get their laboratory tests drawn," said Brownell. "Our lab turnaround times have always been great but the process of working through Maliheh Clinic probably delayed the Polizzi results by at least 24 hours. Now patients should be receiving their results the same day."

"This is a big deal for patients," Peterson said. "It can be tedious to have to wait for lab results that are contingent on a job offer. We know getting them sooner could mean a faster road to self-sufficiency."

About p Intermountain Healthcare
p Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.