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Larry Merlo talks to prominent business, government leaders about what CVS Caremark can do to cut costs, improve outcomes

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Looking to further spread awareness about how CVS Caremark can leverage its unique business model to help consumers, health plans, physicians and hospitals cut healthcare costs and improve health outcomes, CVS Caremark president and CEO Larry Merlo took to the stage as the guest speaker at Thursday’s Detroit Economic Club meeting.  

The meeting was held at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. The Detroit Economic Club provides a platform for international dignitaries, business and government leaders who represent the changing global environment. The group offered a prime audience of key stakeholders for Merlo to share with business leaders — large healthcare payers — how the company is working to reinvent pharmacy.

During his presentation, “Reinventing Pharmacy for Better Health,” Merlo shed light on the many reasons why the nation’s healthcare system is stressed, including an aging population, the prevalence of chronic disease and increasing medication non-adherence. It is no secret that medication adherence is a major public health problem, resulting in about $300 billion a year in unnecessary medical treatment.

Merlo then outlined the solutions that CVS Caremark offers, such as its Pharmacy Advisor program, which has increased adherence rates up to 3.9% and returns $3 in savings for every $1 spent on counseling, accordint to studies.

The counseling program is available to CVS Caremark members who are diagnosed with certain chronic conditions and provides them with key information about their prescribed therapy when they are most receptive to these messages — face-to-face when members are filling a prescription at the pharmacy or by phone from the Pharmacy Advisor Call Center when members choose home delivery. It covers 10 chronic conditions, including asthma, breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression and osteoporosis

Merlo also touched upon its recent acquisition of Coram, one of the nation’s largest providers of infusion services. Clearly, the acquisition of Coram — as well as the rollout of its new Specialty Connect prescription services program — greatly expands the company’s competitive offerings in specialty services. With the high growth and high costs in specialty pharmacy, and the important role that infusion-based therapies play in that space — an $11 billion market, growing at about 10% a year — these are areas where the company’s unique structure and multiple touchpoints allow to deliver considerable cost savings.

In addition, Merlo highlighted the importance of its MinuteClinic business in offering accessible and affordable care to patients. As previously reported by Drug Store News, the clinic provider is working toward its longer-term goal of creating a national platform to support primary care in light of a growing shortage of primary care physicians. And, by 2017, MinuteClinic plans to operate about 1,500 clinics in 35 states.

As anticipated, Merlo discussed during the meeting the company’s recent decision to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products at its 7,600 CVS/pharmacy locations nationwide by Oct. 1 — a move he has described “as the right decision at the right time.”

In line with the move, CVS/pharmacy announced earlier this week an in-store fundraising campaign to help fight the No. 1 cancer killer of women: lung cancer. Funds raised through the campaign will benefit Lung Force, a new initiative to make lung cancer in women a public health priority, drive policy change and increase research funding.

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HMN acquires patient education business

BY Ryan Chavis

DARIEN, Conn. — Health Media Network, a digital point-of-care media company, last week announced the acquisition of HealthBridge’s Patient Education Center business. HealthBridge, a healthcare media company and owner of Physician’s Weekly, provides physicians and healthcare professionals with the information they need to make important decisions at the point of care.

This acquisition will expand Health Media Network to cover more than 11,000 locations, with more than 55,000 physicians across the country. It includes HealthBridge’s Patient Education Center, Health Focus Waiting Room TV and the Healthy Living with HIV Wallboard Network, according to the company. Harvard Medical School will provide content for the newly acquired Patient Education Center — a wallboard and brochure network displayed at 4,000 locations.

“Health Media Network and Physician’s Weekly are like-minded companies that together offer greater choices for physicians and advertisers that need to engage with consumers over relevant medical information. The goal is to empower patients and inform physicians to improve outcomes,” said Christopher Culver, CEO of Health Media Network.

 

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McKesson pilots adherence performance solution for pharmacies

BY Antoinette Alexander

PITTSBURGH — McKesson Pharmacy Systems and Automation has launched a pilot program to test its Adherence Performance reporting solution and provide pharmacies with an adherence rating similar to the CMS Star Ratings provided to health plans.

This rating can help pharmacies understand their adherence rating by organizing pharmacy management system data and giving pharmacies succinct information on target patients who should be included in an adherence program.

“Our Adherence Performance reporting solution helps each pharmacy focus on a group of specific patients whose medication adherence behavior has the most negative impact on the pharmacy’s adherence rating,” said Emilie Ray, president, MPS&A. “Rather than leaving our pharmacies to sift through charts and spreadsheets generated from other reports, we’ve created a real-time set of reports to give pharmacists the information they need to take swift action with specific patients.”

The new adherence solution from MPS&A also provides pharmacies with the following reports:

  • Dashboard summary: Shows the organization’s overall adherence rating for all locations along with benchmarking data showing how the organization compares to the rest of its market. This summary also shows the organization’s adherence rating trend over time;
  • Adherence ratings by pharmacy location: Pharmacies can understand which locations have higher and/or lower ratings to target improvement plans by location;
  • Adherent patient target number: Specifies how many additional patients need to be adherent to increase rating;
  • Adherence rating by plan: Report for pharmacies to share with plans to show their current adherence rating and improvement over time;
  • Target patient list: Summary list of patients to target for an adherence program; and
  • Patient group summary: Report by patient group set up in the pharmacy management system.

The Adherence Performance solution is the second offering from the MPS&A Informatics Program that focuses on providing pharmacies with actionable data. The first solution was released to large chain and outpatient pharmacies in 2013 and focuses on business optimization. These reports focus on operations analysis and highlight actions pharmacies can take to increase efficiency and drive down the cost of business.
 
“Within a few months of introducing our Business Optimization reports, we helped some customers increase their central fill pull through rates to save thousands of dollars per month on inventory costs. We also pinpointed areas for efficiency improvement during dispensing that helped a customer reduce wait times by 38%,” Ray said. “Based on these results, we’re confident that our Adherence Performance reports will bring results for our customers too.”

The MPS&A pilot program will test the Adherence Performance solution in three different pharmacy settings: large chain, outpatient and small independent. Once the pilot is complete, the solution will be made generally available to MPS&A customers. MPS&A also plans to release its Business Optimization reports to the small independent market in the coming months.

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