CVS Caremark's Helena Foulkes outlines integrated pharmacy-based program at forum

WASHINGTON — CVS Caremark's chief healthcare strategy officer on Tuesday outlined how the company's integrated pharmacy-based program for such chronic diseases as diabetes, called Pharmacy Advisor, increased medication adherence rates and physician initiation of prescriptions for concomitant medications to improve patient health.

At a forum sponsored by Health Affairs, Helena Foulkes, EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer, presented findings from a new CVS Caremark study that reviewed how Pharmacy Advisor, through targeted outreach and patient counseling, improved plan member health outcomes while working to reduce healthcare costs. 

"This study highlights the central role pharmacists play in improving the health of their patients and how our programs leverage that expertise as we reinvent pharmacy care," Foulkes said. "The program featured counseling by pharmacists at retail stores and a dedicated pharmacist call center for those identified as having diabetes. The pharmacist interventions resulted in increased patient adherence and encouraged higher initiation rates of medications needed to best treat diabetes. The results show we are helping people on their path to better health."

Presentations at the event discussed studies published in the January issue of Health Affairs that focused on treatment and healthcare programs for people with diabetes. As previously reported by Drug Store News, the Health Affairs January issue included a CVS Caremark study that outlined findings from an analysis of the pharmacy claims data of benefit members at a large Midwest manufacturing company that focused on interventions with diabetic patients between October 2009 and April 2010.

The study followed medication behavior of an intervention group of 5,123 people with diabetes who were proactively counseled by retail and call center pharmacists; and a control group of 24,124 patients with diabetes who did not receive specialized counseling. The researchers measured gains in patient adherence and medication initiation rates of concomitant therapies for diabetes, such as statins, ACE inhibitors and ARBs.

Researchers from CVS Caremark, assisted by experts from Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital, illustrated that contacts by pharmacists with the patients and their doctors increased therapy initiation rates by as much as 39% for the full sample, and an even higher 68% for the group counseled at retail stores, and increased medication adherence rates by 2.1%. The researchers noted that face-to-face interventions by retail store pharmacists resulted in increasing adherence rates by 3.9%.

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