PHARMACY

Walgreens encourages mail-order pharmacy patients to make the switch

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — It seems that many mail-order pharmacy patients are unaware that they can receive their 90-day supply of prescription medications at community pharmacies.

Walgreens on Wednesday said that among 1,000 consumers surveyed by Echo Research between Dec. 10 and Dec. 20, 2010, nearly half of mail-order pharmacy users believed that mail is their only option to receive 90-day prescriptions. What’s more, the drug store chain noted, two-thirds of 30-day chronic medication users said they would be "extremely or very likely to switch" to 90-day supplies at their community pharmacies if given the option.

These results have prompted Walgreens to launch an initiative to encourage eligible prescription customers to transfer their prescriptions to community pharmacies. Walgreens’ Go 90 program "will inform eligible patients that they can receive a 90-day medication supply from their trusted community pharmacist," according to the drug store chain’s president and CEO, Greg Wasson.

Last year, the drug store chain announced a partnership with pharmacy benefit manager Navitus Health Solutions to help pharmacy benefit management clients save on prescription costs with a 90-day supply option at community pharmacies. The program resulted in $3.3 million in savings over a seven-month period, Walgreens said back in November.

“By offering payers programs that leverage our 90-day supply at retail capability, which reduces overall health costs and improves health outcomes, we continue to demonstrate our unique set of pharmacy, health-and-wellness solutions,” said Walgreens health-and-wellness division president Hal Rosenbluth. “As we provide additional tangible savings results from our work with clients like Navitus, we are confident that more payers and employers will welcome the opportunity to provide their members and employees the option of 90-day supplies at their community pharmacy.”

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PHARMACY

Incentives boost compliance rates, study finds

BY Jim Frederick

NORWALK, Conn. — Looking to boost medication compliance rates for patients? Cash incentives and interactive games might be a key.

That’s the finding from HealthPrize Technologies, a Web-based software company that conducted a feasibility study gauging how incentives and games can assist in increasing medication compliance. The company found that average compliance rates for patients given those incentives was 88%.

“The results overwhelmingly showed that people are highly likely to stick with their medication regimens if they are rewarded for doing so, and if the program is engaging and fun,” noted HealthPrize. The one-month study was conducted on the company’s online platform.

The 88% adherence rate is significant, said a company representative, “considering that none of the subjects were lost to follow-up or otherwise excluded from analysis, a common occurrence in other adherence studies that often results in a bias toward artificially high compliance rates that are unrealistic in the real world,” the representative added.

HealthPrize engaged 20 subjects for the study. The patients registered online and engaged with Version 1.0 of the company’s online and mobile program for one month, reporting their compliance via the method of their choice (response to daily text or e-mail, or via their personal online HealthPrize dashboard or mobile application).

Participants earned points for self-reporting their compliance, engaging in weekly quizzes and surveys and “cracking open” daily educational “fortune cookies,” according to the company.

“Fun is not a word you hear in health care very often, and we’d like to change that,” said Katrina Firlik, co-founder and chief medical officer of HealthPrize. “The ‘Engagement Engine’ we’ve built is a comprehensive platform that leverages the combined power of incentives, education and reminders inspired by game dynamics and behavioral economics. Behavior change does not have to be a bitter pill.”

One participant, a long-time healthcare consultant, admitted that with HealthPrize he was more compliant with his medication, a statin, than he had ever been before, the company reported. “HealthPrize provided insights and facts about my condition and medication that I wasn’t aware of,” the participant said. “It helped to keep my medication top-of-mind, and it was fun earning points.”

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BB&T rescinds mandatory mail Rx proposal, drawing praise from independent pharmacies

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The nation’s top independent pharmacy group is hailing a recent decision by a major corporation to maintain freedom of choice of where its employees fill their maintenance prescription medicines.

The National Community Pharmacists Association today applauded BB&T’s decision to reemphasize and continue its employees’ choice in filling their maintenance prescriptions, including at independent community pharmacies. The revised policy was communicated to BB&T employees last week.

“Many small businesses, including independent pharmacies, have found BB&T to be a trusted business partner and ally of local enterprise,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger. “We appreciate BB&T leadership taking this step, which will benefit its 30,000 employees, their families and their communities in 12 states. In return, independent pharmacists look forward to continuing to provide expert, personalized medication counseling and other cost-saving healthcare services to these patients."

In November, BB&T began notifying employees of a broad program utilizing a mandatory mail-order plan. In response, NCPA contacted BB&T to request reconsideration of the policy based on an alternative savings strategy. NCPA discussed the value of neighborhood pharmacies to local communities, detailed the often-overlooked shortcomings in mandatory mail-order plans and cost estimates and proposed such alternative cost-savings solutions as maximizing the appropriate use of generic drugs.

BB&T decided to keep its current program in place for maintenance prescriptions “to provide choice to employees and to show its support for local businesses,” NCPA noted.

“NCPA is proud to have shared an open dialogue and worked with BB&T to continue the current program,” Jaeger said. “We thank BB&T for listening to pharmacists’ concerns. Hopefully, other corporations will come to see the value of continuing their outreach to community pharmacists and supporting local businesses, particularly in today’s economy.”

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