PHARMACY

Survey: Consumers want self-service to manage healthcare expenses

BY Allison Cerra

DULUTH, Ga. Consumers are seeking self-service convenience when managing the financial aspects of their healthcare experience, according to a new survey commissioned by NCR.

The annual consumer study, conducted by Buzzback Market Research, revealed that more than half (51%) of the 4,570 respondents would like to manage their healthcare account by viewing payment history and settling outstanding balances via online and mobile channels. What’s more, at least half of survey respondents said they would be willing to expedite the payment process by pre-authorizing a credit card charge for co-pays and balances not covered by their insurance provider if offered one of the following incentives:

  • A10% discount on their bill (73%)
  • A room and/or amenity upgrades during a hospital stay (51%)
  • A discount at the pharmacy or hospital gift shop (50%)
  • Self-service can help to speed the payment pre-authorization process online during pre-registration or at a kiosk during patient check-in. Beyond improving revenue capture, automating payment pre-authorization enables healthcare providers to reduce expenses related to collecting patient balances and increase overall convenience for patients.

“As patients bear greater financial responsibility for their care, providers must find new, innovative and convenient ways to improve revenue collection and reduce patient bad debt,” said Nelson Gomez, VP NCR Healthcare. “Merging multi-channel self-service can provide a seamless means to capture more revenue through multiple touch points while supporting the industry initiative to improve the cost, quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery.

“Rising healthcare deductibles and co-pays, coupled with the growing need for greater control and convenience, are driving consumers to take charge of their healthcare,” said Gomez. “Self-service technology is facilitating that shift in control by allowing patients to personalize where, when and how they manage all aspects of their healthcare experience based upon individual preference and location.”

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PHARMACY

Walgreens, CVS Caremark announce new PBM network agreement

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I., and DEERFIELD, Ill. The nation’s top drug store chains have reached a new agreement in which one will continue as a participating member of the other’s pharmacy benefit management network.

Nearly two weeks after Walgreens announced that it would terminate its provider relationship with CVS Caremark’s PBM network — to which CVS Caremark responded it would terminate Walgreens’ participation in its retail pharmacy networks in 30 days for violating contract agreements — the two pharmacy giants have reached an agreement in which Walgreens will continue participating in the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management national retail network for existing, new or renewal plans. With the continuing participation of Walgreens, the CVS Caremark national pharmacy network will have more than 64,000 participating pharmacies, including neighborhood independent pharmacies, chain pharmacies and those located in supermarkets and other major retailers.

The companies are not disclosing the financial terms of the new contract.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this mutual, multiyear agreement that meets our business objectives,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens EVP pharmacy. “The agreement makes good business sense, provides the framework we need to operate our business going forward and assures choice and convenience for the many consumers who look to us for quality pharmacy care. The agreement is good for our patients, pharmacists and shareholders, and will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our customers across the country through the CVS Caremark network.”

Per Lofberg, president of CVS Caremark’s PBM business, added, “We are pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable solution together with Walgreens that is consistent with our top priority to provide convenient access to affordable, high-quality pharmacy health care. This new contract enables Walgreens to continue participating in CVS Caremark’s PBM national pharmacy network, provides enhanced network stability, eliminates any current or long-term disruption for our clients or their members and allows us to continue to fulfill our obligation to deliver cost-effective pharmacy benefits for our clients.”

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Mylan gets approval for generic Zocor

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic cholesterol medication made by Mylan, the company said Friday.

The FDA approved Mylan’s simvastatin tablets in the 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg strengths. The drug is a generic version of Merck’s Zocor.

Various versions of Simvastatin had sales of $361 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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