Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Pharmacist-Led Transitions of Care Services on the 30-Day All-Cause Readmission Rate of Patients with Congestive Heart Failure


Background and Objective

A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to determine the cumulative effect of pharmacist-led transitions of care on the 30-day all-cause readmission rates of patients with congestive heart failure with the objective to isolate and assess the effect of pharmacy intervention to a condition-specific service. Previous studies that review pharmacist-led transitional care services involve multiple condition-specific services or a pharmacy service integrated into the healthcare team that presents complications in interpreting the independent effectiveness of component services by pharmacy professionals.


A systematic review was conducted using articles identified from MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and databases for studies on congestive heart failure readmission rates based on transitions of care pharmacist services using detailed inclusion and exclusion criteria. Abstracts were screened for outcome of interest and appropriate transitions of care program structure. Practice and patient characteristics were described and compared to identify current practice trends. A meta-analysis was then performed utilizing previously identified studies from systematic analysis that reported the required data to calculate the effect size. Evidence was reviewed and appraised according to the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale for cohort studies.


The database search produced 443 potential articles for inclusion. Six articles were identified for inclusion in the systematic review based on abstract screening. Of the six articles included in the systematic review, three studies met inclusion criteria for a meta-analysis. Two studies in the meta-analysis stated a significant reduction in the 30-day all-cause readmission rate for patients with congestive heart failure, while the third depicted a reduction in readmission that was found to be non-significant. The pooled effect of the included articles found that pharmacist-led transitions of care services for patients with congestive heart failure had an increased odds to have lower all-cause readmission rates of patients with congestive heart failure (odds ratio = 2.19, 95% confidence interval 1.50–3.20). Based on the meta-analysis of three studies, pharmacist-led transitions of care services significantly reduced the odds of 30-day all-cause readmission rates in patients with congestive heart failure compared with standard-of-care discharge protocols.


Results of the meta-analysis demonstrate the capacity for pharmacist-led transitions of care programs to reduce 30-day all-cause readmission rates in patients with congestive heart failure compared with non-pharmacist discharge care. The financial implications of transitions of care pharmacist involvement have yet to be validated. In general, existing database search results highlight the lack of evidence detailing specific clinical outcomes of pharmacist-led transitions of care services in distinct chronic conditions. Future studies may serve to compare patient-centered outcomes between condition-specific services or across disciplines to provide the most cost-effective delivery of care.

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We are grateful to the authors of the contributing works, Ms. Debbie Lynn for her contributions to presenting this work at the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting 2018, and Nicole McKay for her assistance acquiring database access.

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Correspondence to Sean Hyungwoo Kim.

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No funding was received for the conduct of this study.

Conflict of interest

Connor McKay, Chanhyun Park, Jongwha Chang, Marcia Brackbill, Jae-Young Choi, Jung Heon Lee, and Sean Hyungwoo Kim have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.

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McKay, C., Park, C., Chang, J. et al. Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Pharmacist-Led Transitions of Care Services on the 30-Day All-Cause Readmission Rate of Patients with Congestive Heart Failure. Clin Drug Investig 39, 703–712 (2019).

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