CVS Caremark's Pharmacy Advisor program highlighted in IMS report on adherence

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark has announced that its Pharmacy Advisor program is featured in the national report issued by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report released this week.

As reported by Drug Store News, The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found that better adherence, more careful prescribing of antibiotics and increased generic use could reduce the country's total annual health expenditures by 8%.

The study, "Avoidable Costs in U.S. Healthcare: The $200 Billion Opportunity from Using Medicines More Responsibly," examines six areas that contribute to unnecessary costs: medication nonadherence, delayed evidence-based treatment practice, misuse of antibiotics, medication errors, suboptimal use of generics and mismanaged polypharmacy in older adults. Of these, medication nonadherence drives the largest avoidable cost. According to the report, patients who did not take their medications properly experienced complications that led to an estimated $105 billion in annual avoidable healthcare costs.

The report highlights CVS Caremark's innovative Pharmacy Advisor program as an example of a patient care model that is helping improve medication adherence rates. The program is available to CVS Caremark members who are diagnosed with certain chronic conditions and provides them with key information about their prescribed therapy when they are most receptive to these messages — face-to-face when members are filling a prescription at the pharmacy or by phone from the Pharmacy Advisor Call Center when members choose home delivery.

"Pharmacy Advisor offers patients the ability to engage with a pharmacist one-on-one, at the pharmacy or on the phone. The customized, expert care they receive helps change patient behavior over time, making them more likely to take their medications as prescribed by their doctor, leading to better health outcomes long-term," said Troyen A. Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "By creating and maintaining positive relationships with patients, pharmacists play a crucial role in monitoring and improving patient adherence."

Launched in 2011, Pharmacy Advisor initially focused on patients with diabetes. In 2012, the program was expanded to include chronic cardiovascular care, with the goal of improving medication adherence for four conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. The program was expanded again in 2013 to include support for patients with asthma, breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoporosis.

Research published in Health Affairs about the Pharmacy Advisor program for diabetes showed that pharmacist interaction with patients and their doctors increased both medication adherence rates and physician initiation of prescriptions, thereby improving care for diabetes patients and resulting in savings for payors. Therapy initiation rates increased by as much as 39% for the population studied, with an even higher increase of 68% for the group counseled at retail stores.

Overall medication adherence rates increased by 2.1%, with face-to-face interventions by retail store pharmacists resulting in adherence rate increases of 3.9%. While expenditures for the counseling in the study totaled $200,000, the participating employer saved more than $600,000 through healthcare cost avoidance with the intervention group, a return on investment of $3 for every $1 spent on additional counseling.

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