NEHI calls for team-based approach to improve drug adherence
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Poor medication adherence is one of the nation’s “most persistent” healthcare problems, costing the U.S. health system as much as $290 billion a year, or 13% of total health expenditures, according to the New England Healthcare Institute. In response, the nonprofit organization is calling for an urgent national campaign to improve adherence through a team-based, collaborative approach to long-term patient therapy.
In a widely circulated report, NEHI is urging the health system to launch a series of demonstration projects to test the viability of patient care teams as a more effective way to deal with the problem. Such teams would merge the oversight and skills of both physicians and “non-physician caregivers, including professionals such as community pharmacists,” to “serve as part of a ‘virtual care team’…in a wide variety of practice settings,” according to the report.
“It is time to test adherence solutions through teamwork,” NEHI urged. “Poor medication adherence is exacting a heavy toll in the form of unnecessary illness, disability and premature mortality, particularly among the burgeoning number of chronically ill patients.”
The aging population and the rise in such chronic conditions as diabetes and hypertension “will result in both a greater need for treatment by prescription medication and, if nothing is done, greater nonadherence,” the report continued.
Diverse size, unequal resources within U.S. physician practices
|PRACTICE SIZE||%OF PHYSICIANS||%OF PRACTICES|
|Three to five||27.8||14.4|
|Six or more||23.4||4.9|
|SPECIALIZATION||%OF PHYSICIANS||%OF PRACTICES|
|Solo or single-specialty group||78.8||90.1|
|EMR USE||%OF PHYSICIANS||%OF PRACTICES|
|ADHERENCE-RELATED EMR FEATURE||%OF PHYSICIANS||%OF PRACTICES|
|Warnings on drug interactions||14.6||NA|
Also spurring such new approaches as health teams, NEHI said, is the fact that “the U.S. healthcare system appears poised to embrace system-changing innovations” like health information technology, patient-centered “medical homes” and “accountable care,” also known as outcomes-based or evidence-based medicine.
The group’s answer: “the coordinated implementation of both multiple steps and multiple interventions” that include “techniques for patient identification and screening,” as well as medication reviews by pharmacists and “interventions to reduce cost barriers for individual patients.” NEHI also recommended “patient education and engagement techniques” and “the integration of…adherence strategies with other elements of healthcare reform.”
That includes “the deployment of electronic medical records, feedback loops and data-sharing systems that will allow the…private exchange of patient medication-related data among care team members,” noted the report.
To pay for such programs, NEHI suggested the use of both private investments and “complementary programs created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” In addition, new payment models could “enable and reward investment in the delivery of medication adherence services through care teams,” the NEHI report stated.
NACDS, NCPA claim pharmacy victory after withdrawal of Medicaid program provisions
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association heralded the withdrawal of two provisions from the Medicaid program that would have had retail pharmacies selling generic drugs at a loss.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut provisions that defined average manufacturer price and determined calculation of federal upper limits. The NACDS and NCPA sued CMS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2007 to obtain an injunction against the provisions, which the court granted. In response, CMS revised its definition of multiple source drugs in October 2008, though the pharmacy lobby groups amended their lawsuit to block that as well, saying it was still against the law. CMS’ new rule removes that provision as well.
In a joint statement, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger heralded the decision, saying the rule would have reduced patients’ access to pharmacies by cutting reimbursements, thus forcing retail pharmacies to sell generic drugs at a loss.
“We insisted that this policy was not appropriate,” the statement read. “Separately, we also have urged that policy-makers should recognize the ability of pharmacies and pharmacists to help improve health and reduce healthcare costs. We are gratified that this sense is reflected in the pharmacy provisions of the new healthcare-reform law. The new law contains provisions ranging from dramatically reducing the [accelerated manufacturing of pharmaceutical] cuts to advancing medication therapy management, through which pharmacists can help patients take their medications correctly, which is referred to as ‘medication adherence.’”
Roadside announces partnership to further ‘drive’ wellness programs
BOSTON Two companies have formed a partnership to provide services for long-haul truck drivers.
Sleep HealthCenters and Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab announced a partnership Wednesday to provide sleep medicine services as part of Roadside’s driver-wellness programs.
Roadside provides medical services, such as Department of Transportation-compliant physicals, drug testing, driver-wellness programs and sleep services for professional drivers on the highway and at company terminals. Sleep HealthCenters will support Roadside’s programs by providing education, professional diagnosis and treatment support, which will be incorporated into the driver-wellness program.
“You cannot effectively screen, test and treat sleep apnea without addressing and improving drivers’ overall health condition, such as weight, [body-mass index], stress and cardiac strength,” Roadside COO Rob Scheschareg said. “By providing continuous care for drivers for sleep, fitness, health and [Department of Transportation] compliance from the terminal to the highways, Roadside Medical is able to move the needle toward better driver health.”