PHARMACY

CVS Caremark launches Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular disease

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark is expanding its Pharmacy Advisor program to now include chronic cardiovascular care, a pharmacy-based approach to managing one of the most prevalent and expensive chronic illnesses.

The program, which combines pharmacy benefit manager insights and solutions with pharmacist interventions, ensures that patients follow their medication regimens to achieve optimal health outcomes. Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care initially will focus on improving medication adherence for four conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. High blood pressure alone affects 1-out-of-3 adults and costs the healthcare system approximately $76 billion a year, according to the company.

Last January, CVS Caremark launched Pharmacy Advisor for diabetes, which has facilitated more than 1.7 million member interventions. More than 700 clients representing approximately 12.5 million members will be enrolled in the diabetes program by the end of the year.

"As a pharmacy innovation company, it is our responsibility to continue to find new and effective ways to help people on their path to better health," stated Helena Foulkes, EVP, chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer for CVS Caremark. "The introduction of the Pharmacy Advisor program for chronic cardiovascular conditions allows us to take a new approach to an old challenge. This is another example of how we combine our research and pharmacy care expertise with our unparalleled access to consumers to make a difference for PBM clients and their members."

The launch of Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular conditions follows recent research conducted by CVS Caremark, Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that quantified for the first time how much can be saved per patient by improving medication adherence for common chronic diseases. The research, published this past January in the journal Health Affairs, found that patients with hypertension who took their medications as prescribed saved nearly $4,000 per year, patients with high cholesterol saved up to $1,200 per year and CHF patients saved nearly $8,000 annually.

Through Pharmacy Advisor, CVS Caremark engages PBM members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to their expressed preferences at points when they are most receptive to messages about their prescribed therapy: face-to-face when members choose to fill prescriptions at CVS/pharmacy or by phone when members choose home delivery. The use of these integrated tactics drives behavior change in the short term and over time and leads to better clinical outcomes, the company stated. In addition to improving medication adherence, thus saving money and improving the quality of treatment, the program closes gaps in care and directs members with chronic conditions to existing disease management programs where they can obtain additional support.

The approach to Pharmacy Advisor is informed by CVS Caremark-sponsored research that has shown that counseling with a healthcare professional is highly effective when it comes to improving medication adherence for patients with heart disease. In fact, pharmacists at retail drug stores were found to be the most influential voice in encouraging patients to take their medication as prescribed.

"The Pharmacy Advisor program improves clinical care because we are able to identify and address pharmacy-related care issues that if left unattended could result in disease progression and increased healthcare costs," added Troyen A. Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "We are also better able to engage the member in their care through multiple contact points, providing counsel that can improve adherence and help members optimize their pharmacy benefit and find the most cost effective options."


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Majority of office-based doctors use e-prescribing, Surescripts says

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. — A majority of doctors in the United States now prescribe electronically, the country’s largest e-prescribing network said Wednesday.

Surescripts announced that more than 52% of office-based doctors now use e-prescribing. The company presented the statistic in an online event featuring healthcare leaders and providers from across the country who gathered to receive the Safe-Rx Award, which Surescripts gives to the top 10 states based on their use of e-prescribing.

"Congratulations to this year’s Safe-Rx Award winners and to all the states for taking action to improve one of the most fundamental parts of our nation’s healthcare system," Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis said. "In three short years, the nation has moved from less than 10% to more than 50% of physicians e-prescribing. This represents one of the most significant milestones achieved to date in the nationwide effort to adopt and achieve meaningful-use health information technology."

According to additional statistics released Wednesday, there are 357,000 active prescribers in the Surescripts network, including office-based physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, while 94% of pharmacies nationwide are now connected and receiving e-prescriptions. Meanwhile, the top 10 states with the highest rates of e-prescribing are: Massachusetts, Delaware, Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Oregon and North Carolina.

To find out more about the event, click here.


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BioScrip sales increase, profits decrease in Q3

BY Alaric DeArment

ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Specialty pharmacy provider BioScrip reported $454 million in sales and $500,000 in profits in third quarter 2011, according to an earnings statement released Tuesday.

The sales figure represented a 2.9% increase over third quarter 2010’s $441.2 million, while the profits compared with profits of $2 million during the same period a year ago.

"Overall, growth occurred in spite of a challenging economic environment impacting demand for services, lower acuity levels, shifts in reimbursement rates and other short-term trends impacting companies industry wide," BioScrip president and CEO Rick Smith said. "The diversification that we have in our payer mix has enabled us to keep making forward progress."


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