Congress addresses the elephant in the room: Cost savings yielded by pharmacy-based MTM
A 12-to-1 return on investment. That’s what researchers in Minnesota estimated public and private health plan payers can get when they pay pharmacists to provide medication therapy management.
As reported by the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, the study of 285 beneficiaries enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota found that every dollar invested in the delivery of MTM by community pharmacists yielded more than $12 “in total annual health expenditures.” Another MTM project in North Carolina, this from Kerr Drug, yielded a return on investment of 13-to-1. And that’s just the economic benefit. Both programs also led to healthier patients and better outcomes, particularly for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
For those advocating more support for pharmaceutical therapy and pharmacy-based health services, here’s another nugget: The Congressional Budget Office projected last fall that every 1% increase in overall prescription drug utilization cut overall health costs by $1.7 billion.
Last week, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores cited the Minnesota and Kerr Drug results in praising a new effort in Congress to promote wider adoption and use of pharmacist-provided MTM. As reported by Drug Store News senior editor Michael Johnsen, both the chain and independent pharmacy lobbies strongly endorse the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013, sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers [R-WA.] and Ron Kind [D-WI.]. The bill would expand the pool of patients who qualify for MTM programs through Medicare.
Introducing the bill March 7, McMorris Rodgers correctly pointed out that “more than half of all patients do not take their medications correctly, and seniors are particularly vulnerable.
“These health risks and the exorbitant costs associated with them can be substantially reduced if MTM is expanded," she continued. "This bill will reduce costs and promote overall health for seniors … all across America.”
This isn’t the first time federal lawmakers have tried to leverage the power of pharmacists to boost patient outcomes and drive cost savings through MTM and drug adherence programs; a similar bill was floated in 2010. Let’s hope the message gets through this time.
As always, your comments are welcome.
It's about time Congress and the Healthcare System overall recognize how valuable and critical we are is lowering costs and saving lives
Wellspan Health, Voiceport collaborate on improved medication adherence
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — VoicePort today announced a finalized agreement to deploy their services with WellSpan Health, a new client located in York, Pa., offering a vast array of inpatient, outpatient, home health and physician services.
The company will install two of VoicePort’s patient solutions: PharmaRemind patient notifications and Meducation prescription translation, education and written instruction service. Both innovative solutions will enter Wellspan Health’s pharmacy work-flow in pursuit of delivering improved medication adherence for their pharmacy patients.
Both companies are eager to begin the collaboration and the opportunity to better patient medication adherence. “We are very excited to have the chance to work with WellSpan Health in the opportunity of improving patient health and improving medication adherence,” said Alphonse J. Sasso, VP business development with Voiceport.
Added Cynthia Johannes Beecher, director of Wellspan Pharmacy and Healthy Community Pharmacy, "We are pleased to be partnering with VoicePort to be able to enhance the services we provide our pharmacy patients in the area of education, adherence and private notification on prescription status."
PharmaRemind is a patient reminder service that provides automated HIPAA and PHI compliant notifications to patients to help them stay on task to refill, or pick up a prescription from their pharmacy. The solution will be integrated within the WellSpan Health Pharmacy Management Data Base System with programming built in to recognize when patients should be communicated regarding a prescription to help keep them on regimen. The patient receives their notification in their preferred mode of communication including advanced speech recognition phone, e-mail, text or smartphone.
Meducation is a patient translation, education and instruction service that delivers medication instruction sheets in easy-to-read vocabulary, with translations in 18 different languages. VoicePort is the authorized partner to sell these services in collaboration with Meducation parent company, Polyglot Systems. The solution is written in a manner to help low healt- literate and limited English proficient patients better understand the instructions on how to take their medication complete, with such tools as a universal medication scheduler, pictograms, device videos and a multiple medication calendar scheduler.
VoicePort’s PharmaPhonetics patient solution delivers cost-effective, automated, personalized, intelligent and interactive unified communications that connects directly to the patients on behalf of the pharmacy. Their services include prescription pick-up and refill reminder notifications, health awareness/medical therapy review messaging, patient counseling, translation, education and instruction services, mobile applications focused on pharmacy or the front end, automated web-based appointment scheduling services and patient co-payment assistance programs. The Unified Patient Communication platform enables permission based phone, text, e-mail, web and mobile notifications that are personalized to individual patients and their specific needs.
“Medication adherence is estimated to be a $300 billion issue in the United States. Offering our clients communication patient instruction options via phone, web, text, e-mail and mobile to deliver messages that align to their customers’ preferred needs will help to increase compliance and improve the overall health of each patient,” said Christopher J. Mann, president and CEO, Voiceport. Mann added, “Our new partnership with WellSpan Health further demonstrates the value of our intelligent and automated solutions. We look forward to working with them to satisfy all of their patient needs. We also expect that we will have opportunities to meet with like organizations throughout the country in this new space to leverage our solutions in a similar fashion.”
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’60 Minutes’ report explores fungal meningitis outbreak
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A report on CBS’ "60 Minutes" Sunday explored the aftermath of the nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to the New England Compounding Center that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has sickened 720 people in 20 states and led to 48 deaths.
But "aftermath" might not necessarily be an appropriate word for the people who contracted the infection, for which there is no cure, but who must continue taking medication to treat it and suffer debilitating symptoms.
In the report, former employees of the NECC, which has since declared bankruptcy, talked about alleged means the company’s managers used to evade the scrutiny of regulators as the pharmacy, in employees’ view, had transitioned from a small operation to a manufacturing center and started ignoring safety and sanitary regulations in order to increase volume.
"This story appropriately shines a spotlight on the terrible patient suffering that occurred as a result of the irresponsible actions of NECC, and it reinforces the need to ensure proper oversight by health officials," National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "The accounts of former NECC employees that were reported in the story persuasively reinforce the views of NCPA and others that NECC was in fact evading necessary regulation in part by purporting to be a compounding pharmacy."
The report included an interview with Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who has called for increased federal authority over compounding pharmacies. But Hoey criticized the government’s response.
"As congressional hearings and investigations have made clear, prior to the tragic meningitis outbreak, the FDA and the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy had adequate authority to take action against NECC," Hoey said. "They could have acted to mitigate or potentially even prevent patient suffering. Sadly, they did not."
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