PHARMACY

ACOs’ readiness to achieve cost, quality goals in medication use mixed, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The ability of accountable care organizations to promote optimal use of medications has not yet been fully developed, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, received responses from 46 ACOs representing physicians, hospitals, providers and health plans. The National Pharmaceutical Council, the American Medical Group Association and healthcare company Premier conducted the study, publishing it in the January 2014 issue of the journal. ACOs, in which groups of healthcare providers collaborate in patient care, have been touted as a way to improve the quality of care and reduce costs.

According to the study, while ACOs showed a strong ability to transmit prescriptions electronically, integrate medical and pharmacy data into a single database and offer formularies that encourage generic drugs when appropriate, some areas that need improvement include notifying physicians when prescriptions have been filled, protocols to avoid medication duplication and polypharmacy and quantify the cost offsets of medication use and demonstrate the value of appropriate medication use.

"We’ve long known that optimal use of medications can be an effective tool in meeting the goals of managing costs and improving quality," NPC chief science officer and study author Robert Dubois said. "We set out to determine whether ACOs are poised to maximize the value of medications to achieve those goals. What we found was that ACOs have not yet achieved this integral and critical component of care."

Another contributing author, Premier managing principal of pharmacy consulting and senior director of medication management Marv Feldman, said, "For ACOs to reach their full potential, the various moving parts of healthcare delivery — primary care, hospital care, home care, chronic condition management and medication use — will have to be used in concert."

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PHARMACY

Diabetes patients using online portal showed better cholesterol drug adherence, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

OAKLAND, Calif. — Diabetic users of an online patient portfolio for medication refills improved their adherence to cholesterol-lowering medications and improved their cholesterol levels, according to a new study.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente and the University of California San Francisco Medical School followed 17,760 diabetic patients with an average age of 62 years who received care from Kaiser Permanente in northern California between the beginning of 2006 and the end of 2010. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published in the journal Medical Care.

All the patients were registered users of My Health Manager, Kaiser Permanente’s personal health record and had been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications. The researchers divided them into three groups based on their use of the portal to order refills of the medications, including a control group that never used the online refill function; occasional users of it who requested refills at least once; and exclusive users who requested all their refills through the portal. Among the exclusive users, nonadherence and poorly controlled cholesterol declined by 6% among the exclusive users.

"Our study showed that when patients used online prescription refills, it can improve adherence and health outcomes," Kaiser Permanente Division of Research scientist Andrew Karter said, noting that adherence is among the ‘hardest things for providers to influence.’ "On top of those benefits, we know that online refill systems increase the efficiency of pharmacy operations and provide more convenience for patients."

 

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University of Georgia pharmacy professor becomes first appointee to Rite Aid-endowed professorship

BY Alaric DeArment

ATHENS, Ga. — A professor at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy has been named the first Rite Aid professor in community pharmacy, the school said.

Beth Phillips, who took the new role on Dec. 1, joined the college’s faculty in 2007, and the school said the professorship, its newest, includes a $250,000 endowment for salary support, research and teaching assistance and traveling expenses. Of the school’s other endowed professorships, one also is sponsored by Kroger.

"We are delighted for the support Rite Aid has shown in establishing this community pharmacy professorship," college dean Svein Øie said. "The professorship will be key in our efforts to advance community pharmacy in our new healthcare environment."

Phillips teaches courses in community and ambulatory care in the doctor of pharmacy and graduate certificate in clinical pharmacy programs at the school and was named teacher of the year in 2012. In her 18 years teaching pharmacy, she has trained more than 60 postgraduate-year-one and postgraduate-year-two residents.

 

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