PHARMACY

Medco launches educational online tool to improve medication nonadherence

BY DSN STAFF

New York — Given the high costs of medication nonadherence to the healthcare system and its responsibility for numerous hospitalizations every year, a number of companies have devised means to combat the problem. One pharmacy benefit manager is doing it online.


Medco Health Solutions announced the creation of what it calls an online safety net designed to alert the PBM’s more than 65 million members of gaps in care and potential drug interactions. The service allows members to register at the company’s website and is in effect whether they fill prescriptions via Medco’s mail-order service or through a retail pharmacy. It includes tools that alert and educate patients about medication safety and adherence risks, and provides 24-hour access to specialist pharmacists who can discuss medication issues.


Medication nonadherence is estimated to cost the healthcare system at least $300 billion a year and results in 33% to 69% of medication-related hospital admissions, according to Medco, which said the new tool closed more than 100,000 gaps in care during the first four months of a pilot program. 


Two diseases in particular that showed low levels of adherence in patients were diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 18 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, but less than 2% of adults are fully taking care of their disease. Among the millions with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, 25% have it under control, and more than 12% of healthcare spending is related to hypertension.


“Health plan payers are well aware of the serious and often costly health consequences from drug interactions and gaps in care that can result in hospitalizations for their members,” Medco chief Web officer Tom Feitel said. “Medco’s advanced online tools are real-time intervention safety nets that put the power to prevent avoidable medication risks into the hands of the member. By encouraging their members to register online, our clients are taking an important step in improving medication safety and reducing both plan and member costs.”


The tool is designed to identify problems related to adherence — such as patients not taking medications they should be taking or failing to refill prescriptions — and sends participants alerts when it finds those problems, as well as educates them about potential risks associated with gaps in care.


In addition to monitoring patients’ prescription drug adherence, the tool includes a program for checking interactions be­tween prescription and over-the-counter drugs, which Medco called the only electronic tool of its kind. It checks any OTC drug, supplement or vitamin purchased through the Medco Health Store against prescription drugs patients are using, alerting them to potential dangers before the purchase is finished, for a total of more than 30 billion potentially harmful interactions.


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PHARMACY

Adults want control of their private health data

BY Alaric DeArment

AUSTIN, Texas — An overwhelming majority of respondents to a recent poll want to choose which companies and government agencies can view and use their health information.


An online survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted in November by the advocacy group Patient Privacy Rights and Zogby International — with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2% — found that nearly all respondents favored personal control over health information, including information stored electronically. “No matter how you look at it, Americans want to control their own private health information,” Patient Privacy Rights founder Deborah Peel said. “We asked the question, ‘If you have health records in electronic systems, do you want to decide which companies and government agencies can see and use your sensitive data?’ Ninety-three percent said ‘Yes.’”


Nearly all respondents shared these sentiments; 97% said they thought doctors, hospitals, labs and health technology systems should not be allowed to share or sell health information without their consent, while 98% said insurance companies should not. Ninety-one percent of respondents said they wanted the ability to decide which individuals could see and use their information. “Americans overwhelmingly believe that they are the only people in the right position to make decisions about how their information can be used,” Peel said. “Researchers do not get a free pass.”


The results are significant considering the country’s move toward electronic health records and electronic prescribing, provisions for which were a prominent component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. While supporters said the move to EHRs could save billions of dollars by reducing the risk of errors and eliminating waste, concerns about fraud and misuse of patients’ personal information have arisen as well.


Another poll, conducted online in February by Harris Interactive on behalf of Xerox — which provides a number of healthcare IT and documentation products and services — found that nearly half of the 2,180 adults surveyed were ready to give up paper medical records in favor of electronic ones and thought EHRs would lead to more efficient health care, despite many not knowing what to expect when the transition took place. A majority of respondents to the Harris poll still expressed concerns, including 79% who feared theft of records, 69% who were concerned about misuse of information and 68% who were afraid of lost or damaged records.


“Providers can ease this fear by discussing the security precautions taken to safeguard against data breaches,” Xerox VP healthcare providers John Jones said. “By arming Americans with information on EHR basics, we can prevent some of the influence of the media hype cycle around potential security risks.”


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Sun seeks to acquire Caraco

BY Allison Cerra

DETROIT — An India-based drug maker is looking to acquire all outstanding shares of another generic drug manufacturer based in the United States.

Caraco said it received and will discuss the proposal from Sun Pharma, by which Sun would acquire all outstanding shares of common stock it doesn’t already own.

The $4.75-per-share cash transaction represents a 5% premium over the closing price of Caraco common stock on Dec. 2, Caraco said.

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