NACDS: Medication management is key measurement for exchange health plans
ARLINGTON, Va. — When selecting an exchange health plan under the Affordable Care Act, consumers should be able to evaluate plans’ success in medication management, among other quality measures, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores stated in comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Speciﬁcally, NACDS urged CMS to adopt measures related to medication adherence and appropriate medication use as part of its Quality Rating System for Qualiﬁed Health Plans, which are offered through health insurance exchanges.
The letter emphasized the importance of strong and consistent quality medication measures across federal and state programs to help drive and improve accountability and transparency. NACDS’ letter also noted the success of medication measures in the Medicare Star Ratings program in driving improved patient outcomes.
Including stronger medication measures will "provide powerful incentives to improve quality of care and patient outcomes, as well as meaningful consumer protections regarding affordable, quality health care and meaningful, reliable and actionable rating information," NACDS stated in the letter.
NACDS also emphasized that medication measures are closely linked to improved patient outcomes and lower total medical costs. Citing a recent CMS study within the Medicare Part D program, the letter highlights that medication therapy management can lead to improved drug therapy outcomes and signiﬁcantly reduce catastrophic care and emergency room costs.
NACDS urged the agency to align medication management measures with Medicare as it implements health exchanges. To that end, NACDS noted, "Given the beneﬁcial impact of MTM to the Medicare Part D program, we believe MTM should also become the cornerstone of drug coverage in QHPs."
"A lack of alignment on medication management standards undermines consumer education efforts and diminishes the ability of individuals to have a consistent understanding of the state and federal quality and performance measures with respect to safe, consistent and appropriate medication use," NACDS stated in the letter.
In its continuing efforts in support of MTM, NACDS points to a growing body of evidence that improving medication adherence — including use of MTM to help patients take medications as prescribed — helps to enhance patient health and improve health care affordability.
Reports by the Congressional Budget Ofﬁce and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as articles in Health Affairs, the Journal of American Pharmacists and the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, offer further support that appropriate medication use can improve health while lowering costs.
The increasing focus on MTM also has included action in the executive and legislative branches of government. Earlier this year, CMS published a proposed rule that would improve eligibility criteria for MTM within Medicare, making MTM available to 18 million beneficiaries instead of the current 2.5 million, according to CMS estimates. Bipartisan support continues to grow for the proposed Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 (H.R. 1024 and S. 557). The legislation enjoys the co-sponsorship of 159 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 30 members of the U.S. Senate — more than 35% of the Congress.
Blog: Kroger tests marketing fuel point awards in exchange for transferred prescriptions
HOUSTON — Kroger is test-marketing the giving of 1,000 "fuel points" toward discounted gas for each transferred prescription vs. the traditional $25 Kroger gift card, according to a blog published on the Houston Chronicle website Wednesday.
"Still a good deal, but probably worth $15 or $20 for an average fill-up (and it’s probably best to pull up to the pump near empty). If you drive an SUV or one of those double-tank pickups — or a Hummer — you’ll save as much as $35 because the discount is good for up to 35 gallons," observed blogger Cindy George. "The current transferred-prescription promotion offering 1,000 fuel points is a pilot program Kroger has been testing in the Houston market since November. The experiment continues through this month."
The promotion requires the transferred prescription to be filled and purchased at least once at a competing pharmacy, George reported.
Report: Global telehealth market to boom by 2018
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The global telehealth market is expected to grow by more than a factor of 10 from 2013 to 2018, as medical providers increasingly employ remote communications and monitoring technology to reduce costs and improve the quality of care, according to a report published last week by IHS Technology.
Worldwide revenue for telehealth devices and services is expected to reach $4.5 billion in 2018, up from $440.6 million in 2013, based on data from an IHS report entitled “World Market for Telehealth – 2014 Edition.” The number of patients using telehealth services will rise to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013.
“Amid rising expenses, an aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, the healthcare industry must change the way it operates,” Roeen Roashan, medical devices and digital health analyst at IHS Technology, stated. “Telehealth represents an attractive solution to these challenges, increasing the quality of care while reducing overall healthcare expenditures.”
Results from telehealth programs reveal sharp decreases in readmission rates and mortality rates, alongside increases in adherence through patient engagement. These benefits make a strong business case for telehealth and will result in greater reimbursement from regulatory bodies. As a result, providers will integrate telehealth into their healthcare delivery.
In particular, the introduction of mobile health hubs is boosting the market, lowering the cost of telehealth while increasing overall value propositions.
Telehealth is especially helpful in managing the chronic conditions of those aged 65 and older in the face of all-time-high levels of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and obesity. Telehealth also offers scalable healthcare in a cost-efficient way at a time of increasing pressure on the healthcare sector for personnel and resources.
While telehealth mainly has been applied to post-acute patients, providers are now looking to monitor the health of entire populations. This process, called population health management, is further expanding the total available market for telehealth.
Other factors that will benefit the expansion of telehealth include the anticipated growth in wearable technology and the quantified self within a connected home context, aimed at developing a sustainable platform for preventive care.