‘Building the ACO’ revisited
The ink was barely dry when we received this response to our Oct. 15, 2012, cover story, “Building the ACO.”
Thank you for your excellent article, “Building the ACO.” It is clear that U.S. healthcare policy is moving in the direction of accountability and performance. The objective is to spread primary care responsibility across an integrated healthcare team. As you note, ACOs address the goals of improving healthcare access and outcomes while decreasing cost. I fully agree that this approach is in the best interest of individuals and the healthcare system. It is an example of a policy gone right!
We now have a significant body of research — both government and commercial — demonstrating the value and [return on investment] of integrating community pharmacists into key roles on ACO teams. In my view, the role of the pharmacist in the ACO paradigm is pivotal. As the medical professionals with the broadest knowledge of medicines, and often the most accessible, pharmacists are in a unique position to help impact medication adherence. There is widespread agreement that medication adherence is one of the greatest contributing factors to overall healthcare costs in the United States, … ultimately costing more than $290 billion annually — and growing.
The cost story is clear. The Boehringer Ingelheim data that you cite demonstrate that it is one-third less expensive to visit a retail clinic versus a physician’s office and five times as expensive to go to an emergency room versus a retail clinic. According to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], when pharmacists take a central role in helping to manage medication therapy, the ROI ranges between 3:1 and 5:1, and can be as high as 12:1, based on reduced hospital admissions, use of unnecessary or inappropriate medications, emergency room admissions and overall physicians visits. Other data have supported the role of pharmacists in helping to manage other routine services, such as vaccinations, blood pressure monitoring, and risk factor and lifestyle modification counseling.
Despite the well-documented opportunity at hand with community pharmacies, legislation and private-payer reimbursement models are still lagging in fully recognizing and enabling community pharmacists to fulfill their potential on ACO teams. As a pharmacist and the founder and CEO of RxAlly, I am proud that members of our industry are not waiting for policy and reimbursement models, but have been at the front line advancing the practice of pharmacy forward through innovative research and partnerships. It is this model of pharmacists playing a central role in an ACO on which RxAlly was conceived. With more than 22,000 member pharmacies nationwide, RxAlly has brought together the largest national network of pharmacies to improve health and lower costs. The RxAlly Performance Network of community pharmacies aims to improve health through personalized pharmacist care; reliable, evidence-based clinical practices; proprietary research; and an interoperable technology platform, which many — including you — have identified as central to the success of any ACO.
… I appreciate the role of DSN in tracking and reporting on critical trends and hope you and your readers will continue to focus, in particular, on advocating for legislation and reimbursement policies that further our evolution toward effective ACO models that take full advantage of all that pharmacists and community pharmacies have to offer.
Bruce T. Roberts, R.Ph.
Chairman and CEO, RxAlly
More patients ‘get the point’ of flu shots
While there is still plenty of room for improvement, a growing number of patients have either already received or plan to receive a flu shot this year compared to one year ago. According to an online survey of more than 900 AccentHealth viewers conducted in September, 57% of patients have received or plan to receive a flu shot this year, versus 53% in 2011.
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Focusing solely on patients who did not receive a flu shot in 2011, the recent Accent-Health data indicate a net increase of 11 percentage points in the number who will vaccinate this year. While there appears to be a significantly greater propensity to receive a flu vaccination among patients 45 years and older, “the younger audience segment remains an important area of focus and opportunity of market growth due to the sheer size of the audience,” noted AccentHealth VP market research Natalie Hill. Half of adults younger than 40 years reported they will receive the shot this year.
Importantly, the recent AccentHealth study also confirmed that more patients continue to embrace the community pharmacy as a preferred destination for flu vaccinations, with nearly 1-in-4 having received or planning to receive a flu shot in a retail pharmacy setting this year.
Again, there is a still plenty of room for improvement. The glass-half-empty view focuses on the more than 40% of patients who won’t get a flu shot this year; a recent online survey conducted by CVS Caremark suggested this group could be as high as 51%. However, AccentHealth data suggest some areas where community pharmacy may be able to chip away at the resistance. “Those who do not receive the flu shot most often indicate that it is unnecessary and/or due to side effects or the fear of side effects caused by the vaccine,” Hill explained.
Patient Views is a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that appears in every edition of DSN magazine, as well as the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to email@example.com.
Rite Aid marks American Diabetes Month with Wellness+, Wellness store programs
CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is renewing its diabetes extension for Wellness+ and offering free screenings at all of its Wellness stores to mark American Diabetes Month, the retail pharmacy chain said Monday.
Rite Aid said members of its Wellness+ for Diabetes program, which it launched last year, would be eligible for free wellness consultations with pharmacists trained as diabetes care specialists, including access to a toll-free number where they can be connected during regular business hours with a pharmacist. They can also receive a recurring $10 +UP Reward for every $50 spent on certain diabetes products, as well as a 12-page Diabetes Health guide available at any store. In addition, all of the approximately 600 Wellness stores in the chain would offer free health screenings, including diabetes risk, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and blood pressure; the events will take place on Nov. 14 and Nov. 17.
"Living with diabetes can feel overwhelming, but Rite Aid is committed to making it easier by being a year-round destination for diabetes support," Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. "By enrolling in Wellness+ for Diabetes, our customers instantly get a wide range of resources including the ability to call or chat online with a Rite Aid pharmacist specially trained as a diabetes care specialist."
The company will raise money for the American Diabetes Association by selling paper pinups at stores, offering Rite Aid coupons with the pinups.