WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — There is power in information. There is even more power in that information when it is conveniently available at the precise moment it is needed — in this case, during one of a patient's increasingly time-crunched appointments with a general healthcare practitioner. Today more than half (52%) of all office-based doctors are using that Surescripts network to streamline and help manage the prescriptions they write, which is connecting them to 94% of all retail pharmacies. Efficiently coordinating care across the multitude of healthcare practitioners that patients are regularly engaging is not the future of health care; it's the today of health care. Is your business ready?
(THE NEWS: Walgreens to deliver immunization data over Surescripts network. For the full story, click here.)
According to a Surescripts study released last month regarding the impact of e-prescribing on medication adherence and subsequent cost savings, there has been an approximate 10% increase in patient first-fill medication adherence among physicians who adopted e-prescribing technology when compared with physicians who did not use e-prescribing. Prior studies have documented that as much as 28% of all paper prescriptions had never made it to the pharmacy, so this represents strong momentum toward increasing patient compliance and reducing healthcare costs.
Generically apply that 10% lift to immunization compliance, and there would have been an additional 11 million patients inoculated from influenza over the 2011-2012 cough, cold and flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by early November 2011, an approximate 36% of people 6 months and older had been vaccinated. That translates to about 111 million people and represents a 3.5 percentage-points lift versus the 2010-2011 cough, cold and flu season. And for children this past season, almost 37% were inoculated versus 31% last year. That positive momentum can only be enhanced by a physician's ability to verify vaccination compliance across their patient base.
But this won't stop at immunizations. There's too much potential here for improvements across overall disease state management as pharmacy and retail clinics continue to build out not only medication-therapy management capabilities, but also disease-state management and disease-diagnostics offerings. And stay tuned — later this week, the Food and Drug Administration will be meeting to discuss how to further augment the pharmacist's role in the administration of health care as the agency explores expanding its Rx-to-OTC paradigm through better utilization of the pharmacist.