WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Yes, there's been a lot research and news touting the importance of medication adherence — and there's a $300 billion reason for that — but this most recent CVS Caremark-sponsored research is one of the first studies that quantifies the impact of medication adherence on worker absenteeism.
(THE NEWS: CVS Caremark research finds link between medication adherence, employee productivity. For the full story, click here)
With such chronic diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol impacting 70% of working-age adults in the United States, it is critical that the message on the importance of medication adherence is heard loud and clear. Just look at the survey results: 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, the research found. This translated into estimated annual savings of up to nearly $1,700 per adherent employee. That is a significant savings.
Pharmacists do — and must continue to — play an important role in educating patients on the importance of medication adherence as health care continues to face an uphill battle. Just look at diabetes as one example: A disease that costs $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood-sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes raises a person's risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
In a study published in 2010, CDC projected that as many as 1-out-of-3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050, if current trends continue.
Then there's healthcare reform to consider. With the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the notion that individuals could face federal tax penalties if they failed to purchase some level of health insurance by 2014, that could put as many as 40 million uninsured Americans into the coverage rolls — and potentially into prescription drug coverage.
It will drive a good number of patients to medical homes, and in theory, significantly increase the demand for maintenance prescriptions and other preventative or chronic healthcare services.
The bottom line is that this most recent CVS Caremark research further underscores the importance of medication adherence and the critical role that pharmacists play in helping their patients live healthier lives.
What are your thoughts on this topic and have you experienced this issue among employees within your own company?