Express Scripts and Walgreens last week announced the launch of Smart90 Walgreens, a new option for Express Scripts clients interested in 90-day prescription drug programs and to help drive lower costs. The program is expected to improve medication adherence by both providing a cost value to the patient while maintaining what has more and more become a crucial patient-pharmacist face-to-face encounter.
What a difference a year makes. Far removed from its squabbles over reimubursement, the two companies partner on a new program that reinforces the value that retail pharmacy provides and the innovative ways that retail and mail can work together to create solutions that help get patients on, and keep them on, their medications.
Participation incentives are built in. Both the patient and payer save money on this kind of program — the patient by way of lower co-pays and the payer by way of fewer hospital visits because of that aforementioned improved patient adherence. In a word, it's "smart," which is probably why Express Scripts and Walgreens decided to incorporate that descriptor into the program's moniker.
It also may set the stage for how 90-day fills will be fulfilled in the future.
CVS Caremark promotes the similarly structured Maintenance Choice program — a limited network model where patients can obtain maintenance medications from either a CVS retail pharmacy or a CVS Caremark mail-order pharmacy. And the chain recently announced its Maintenance Choice 2.0 offering, which offers 90-day across a less-restrictive or voluntary plan design option.
According to a DSN report in June, the Maintenance Choice program boasts approximately 16.3 million lives covered by more than 1,200 plans, up from 10.5 million in the year-ago period.
Between CVS Caremark, and now Walgreens and Express Scripts, that's a lot of lives that will benefit from medication adherence communication. And that's more than just smart, it's critical. Because it's a factor that could take a bite out of the more than $200 billion that non-adherence costs the healthcare system on an annual basis, according to the latest IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report.