Meet Becky Bean, chief pharmacy officer at Novant Health
Since joining the team at Novant Health, Bean has been helping patients understand their medications — and achieve better health as a result
When Becky Bean joined Novant Health, she was one of four pharmacists working on a pioneering project called Safe Med.
With a two-year grant funded through Novant Health Foundation, the team was tasked with combating a pervasive challenge in the world of healthcare — namely, the high percentage of patients who return to the hospital after discharge because they either haven’t been using their prescribed medication properly or because they haven’t been using it at all.
“The Safe Med team would call a patient when they got discharged and walk them through their medications,” said Bean, now the chief pharmacy executive at Novant Health. “It was so rewarding when you knew at the end of a conversation you gave somebody more confidence and hope that they could get better and thrive on a medication. You would literally tell the patient, ‘Get all your bottles, and we’re going to walk through all of them.’ People don’t always read their labels, and they don’t know how they’re taking their medications. So we would walk through the name, how much they were taking, what the medication was for and the potential side effects. No one had really taken the time to explain that to them.”
The Safe Med team also helped ensure that follow-up appointments were set, and the results spoke for themselves: Hospital readmission rates dropped significantly, Bean said. And the program became a foundation for what is now Novant Health Care Connections, our virtual healthcare service model that combines the clinical skills of nurses, social workers, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists and dietitians with the professional skills of our educators and service representatives to connect patients, providers and community resources to improve care and deliver value.
“Obviously it’s the right thing to do for our patients, and we also anticipated changes in how we will get paid for providing care in the future,” Bean said. “Preparing for the future means designing models of care that lead to better outcomes, and health care providers who keep patients healthy are compensated for delivering more value.”
In July 2020, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bean moved into her current role as chief pharmacy executive at Novant Health. While her work over the past year has centered largely on managing the impact of the COVID-19 and spearheading Novant Health’s vaccination efforts, she hasn’t lost sight of her overarching mission to help patients manage their medications and keep them healthy.
“We’re really focused on getting patients on the ideal medication regimen across all care settings, including the home setting — identifying medication needs, understanding barriers to accessing medications and designing a care model that supports getting patients on a medication most likely to improve their health,” Bean said. “We know there are gaps. There are patient populations that don’t have insurance or are underinsured, and we’re actively working with our community health workers to get patients connected to the therapies they need.”
Back in her Safe Med days, that work was focused on supporting patients after they were discharged from the hospital. Now, Bean is finding ways to begin that support even earlier, before the patient leaves the four walls of a healthcare facility.
“We’ve been leveraging our partnership with Walgreens to make sure patients have their medication before they’re discharged. During the hospital stay, there’s a lot of waiting. Why not take advantage of that wait time to talk through those medications so patients are set up for success when they get home?” Bean said. “Conversations about medications require a time investment, including listening to assess barriers and level of understanding. It’s not a five-minute conversation, especially after a hospital stay.”
But it’s worth the effort, and there’s much more to do.
“One thing we’ve been focused on, particularly this past year, is purpose-driven work: What’s my personal purpose, and why do I do the work that I do?” Bean said. “For me, the ability to position pharmacy in a way that helps keep patients safe and lead healthier lives is the ultimate reward.”
You can make a difference, too.
You can help support the work of Becky Bean and the pharmacy team at Novant Health by making a contribution through Novant Health Foundation. Your gifts allow us to explore new services and programs that keep our communities safe and healthy. Do your part, and give today.