CVS CEO discusses five key reforms

As the healthcare reform debate continues and discussions of public vs. private are tossed about, what seems to be getting lost in all of the muck are the cost-controlling levers that already exist, like those reforms CVS Caremark's Tom Ryan outlined.

For example, getting patients to take their medications as prescribed could have a major impact on driving down costs -- to the tune of billions of dollars a year -- while improving healthcare outcomes of patients.

Non-adherence is a major problem for the already strained U.S. healthcare system and is a frequent cause of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness.

CVS has been very active in its quest to help patients improve medication adherence as evidenced by its Proactive Pharmacy Care program, its new ReadyFill program and, more recently, its involvement in a multi-year study on how to improve patient medication adherence.

Then there's the retail-based health clinics, which have proven their success in affording patients with a convenient, affordable and quality healthcare solution to augment the care provided by a primary care physician.

A recently published study by Rand Corporation found that the costs of treating acute illnesses at retail clinics were 30% to 40% lower than in physicians' offices and urgent care centers, and 80% lower than emergency departments. The study was based in part on data from CVS Caremark's MinuteClinic. Meanwhile, MinuteClinic is working to drive utilization and expand clinical offerings to provide wellness, prevention and chronic illness management.

These are obviously just two of the five reforms outlined by Ryan but the point is this: Perhaps the best solution is to improve the system we have versus creating an alternative one to compete against the old system?

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