CVS Caremark research finds link between medication adherence, employee productivity

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Employees with such chronic diseases as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure spend fewer days out of the office when they are adherent to their medications, according to new research conducted by CVS Caremark and Truven Health Analytics (previously the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters).

Such chronic diseases as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol impact nearly 70% of working-age adults in the United States. While research has demonstrated the impact of medication adherence on reducing overall healthcare costs, there has been less evidence available to date on whether adherence improves employee productivity. However, the new research, published on Monday in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that employees with chronic conditions who were adherent to their prescribed medications had up to seven fewer days away from work annually (including absenteeism and short-term disability days) than those who were not adherent. This translated into estimated annual savings of up to nearly $1,700 per adherent employee.

"These research findings clearly show that employees who receive appropriate medical care and follow their doctor's directions about taking their medication are healthier and more productive," stated Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "These results are one more piece of the puzzle illustrating the impact of medication adherence in improving health outcomes while managing overall healthcare costs."

The researchers examined data on prescription drug usage, absenteeism and short-term disability for more than 100,000 employees at more than 16 medium- to large-sized employers.  Employees included in the study were diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol or asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The research found significant differences between adherent and nonadherent employees in the number of short-term disability days taken for all conditions studied, and between adherent and nonadherent employees in the number of absenteeism days for those with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and asthma/COPD.

"This is one of the first studies to be able to quantify the impact of medication adherence on worker absenteeism," stated Ginger Carls, senior research leader of Truven Health Analytics and co-author of the study. "The results provide a clear message that employees with common chronic conditions who take their medications as directed miss fewer days at work, resulting in potential cost savings for employers."

This study is a product of ongoing CVS Caremark-sponsored research that is focused on understanding why many consumers do not take their prescriptions as directed, and developing solutions to assist patients in using their medications effectively.  Annual excess healthcare costs because of medication nonadherence in the United States are estimated to be as much as $300 billion annually.


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