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CVS CEO discusses five key reforms

BY Antoinette Alexander

As the healthcare reform debate continues and discussions of public vs. private are tossed about, what seems to be getting lost in all of the muck are the cost-controlling levers that already exist, like those reforms CVS Caremark’s Tom Ryan outlined.

For example, getting patients to take their medications as prescribed could have a major impact on driving down costs — to the tune of billions of dollars a year — while improving healthcare outcomes of patients.

Non-adherence is a major problem for the already strained U.S. healthcare system and is a frequent cause of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness.

CVS has been very active in its quest to help patients improve medication adherence as evidenced by its Proactive Pharmacy Care program, its new ReadyFill program and, more recently, its involvement in a multi-year study on how to improve patient medication adherence.

Then there’s the retail-based health clinics, which have proven their success in affording patients with a convenient, affordable and quality healthcare solution to augment the care provided by a primary care physician.

A recently published study by Rand Corporation found that the costs of treating acute illnesses at retail clinics were 30% to 40% lower than in physicians’ offices and urgent care centers, and 80% lower than emergency departments. The study was based in part on data from CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic. Meanwhile, MinuteClinic is working to drive utilization and expand clinical offerings to provide wellness, prevention and chronic illness management.

These are obviously just two of the five reforms outlined by Ryan but the point is this: Perhaps the best solution is to improve the system we have versus creating an alternative one to compete against the old system?

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Schnuck exec honored by produce pub

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS A weekly newspaper serving the produce industry has given a top award to a Schnuck Markets executive.

The Packer named Schnucks VP produce and floral Michael O’Brien the 2009 “Marketer of the Year,” Schnucks announced, presenting him with the award at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit earlier this month.

 

O’Brien has worked in the supermarket industry for 37 years, starting at Schnucks as a bagger in 1972, becoming a store manager in 1983 and division manager in 1990. He has served in his current position since 2001.

Schnucks said O’Brien had taken an “active role” in promoting produce consumption and was a member of a number of industry organizations. He is chairman-elect of the PMA’s board of directors and served as chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation in 2007, promoting that organizations “5 a day, Fruits & Veggies – More Matters” campaign to promote the eating of fruits and vegetables. Produce Merchandising magazine also named him “Retailer of the Year” in 2004.

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AACE introduces diabetes algorithm

BY Alaric DeArment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A new algorithm designed to help Type 2 diabetes patients achieve glycemic control has appeared online in the September/October edition of the journal Endocrine Practice.

The algorithm, released as a consensus statement by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology is a one-page resource designed to assist primary care doctors, endocrinologists and others in the management of Type 2 diabetes.

 

“Depending on a patient’s current A1C level, a physician will use the algorithm to determine whether a mono-, dual- or triple-combination therapy should be considered,” former AACE president and co-chairwoman of the Algorithm Task Force Helena Rodbard said in a statement. “To minimize the risk of diabetic complications, the algorithm will help achieve a hemoglobin A1C value of 6.5 or less when appropriate.”

 

The task force said it was the first such algorithm that considers currently approved classes of medications emphasizing safety and efficacy while also considering factors such as the overall cost of care.

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