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CVS Caremark’s Pharmacy Advisor program highlighted in IMS report on adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark has announced that its Pharmacy Advisor program is featured in the national report issued by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report released this week.

As reported by Drug Store News, The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found that better adherence, more careful prescribing of antibiotics and increased generic use could reduce the country’s total annual health expenditures by 8%.

The study, "Avoidable Costs in U.S. Healthcare: The $200 Billion Opportunity from Using Medicines More Responsibly," examines six areas that contribute to unnecessary costs: medication nonadherence, delayed evidence-based treatment practice, misuse of antibiotics, medication errors, suboptimal use of generics and mismanaged polypharmacy in older adults. Of these, medication nonadherence drives the largest avoidable cost. According to the report, patients who did not take their medications properly experienced complications that led to an estimated $105 billion in annual avoidable healthcare costs.

The report highlights CVS Caremark’s innovative Pharmacy Advisor program as an example of a patient care model that is helping improve medication adherence rates. The program is available to CVS Caremark members who are diagnosed with certain chronic conditions and provides them with key information about their prescribed therapy when they are most receptive to these messages — face-to-face when members are filling a prescription at the pharmacy or by phone from the Pharmacy Advisor Call Center when members choose home delivery.

"Pharmacy Advisor offers patients the ability to engage with a pharmacist one-on-one, at the pharmacy or on the phone. The customized, expert care they receive helps change patient behavior over time, making them more likely to take their medications as prescribed by their doctor, leading to better health outcomes long-term," said Troyen A. Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "By creating and maintaining positive relationships with patients, pharmacists play a crucial role in monitoring and improving patient adherence."

Launched in 2011, Pharmacy Advisor initially focused on patients with diabetes. In 2012, the program was expanded to include chronic cardiovascular care, with the goal of improving medication adherence for four conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. The program was expanded again in 2013 to include support for patients with asthma, breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoporosis.

Research published in Health Affairs about the Pharmacy Advisor program for diabetes showed that pharmacist interaction with patients and their doctors increased both medication adherence rates and physician initiation of prescriptions, thereby improving care for diabetes patients and resulting in savings for payors. Therapy initiation rates increased by as much as 39% for the population studied, with an even higher increase of 68% for the group counseled at retail stores.

Overall medication adherence rates increased by 2.1%, with face-to-face interventions by retail store pharmacists resulting in adherence rate increases of 3.9%. While expenditures for the counseling in the study totaled $200,000, the participating employer saved more than $600,000 through healthcare cost avoidance with the intervention group, a return on investment of $3 for every $1 spent on additional counseling.
 

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Bill would delay cost-cutting measures called harmful to independent pharmacies, Medicare patients

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives would delay competitive bidding under Medicare for medical equipment until some issues are resolved.

The bill, H.R. 2375, the Transparency and Accountability in Medicare Billing Act, would delay by at least six months implementation of two rounds of the Medicare durable medical equipment competitive bidding program and the national mail-order program for diabetic testing supplies in order to give Congress the ability to reform the program, allow its evaluation by auction experts and other purposes. Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, introduced the bill, which received co-sponsorship from Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.; Bill Posey, R-Fla.; Tom Rooney, R-Fla.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; and C.A. Ruppersberger, D-Md.

"The National Mail Order program policies Medicare is implementing are penny-wise and pound-foolish because they run the significant risk of contributing to more hospitalizations and costly healthcare interventions for diabetes patients," National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey said. "In addition, by steering patients away from their longtime community pharmacist, Medicare’s changes fly in the face of bipartisan efforts toward better coordinated care models, such as through medical homes and accountable care organizations."

According to the NCPA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is preparing to put cuts in place that would reduce pharmacy reimbursement rates for diabetes testing supplies by 72% this year, forcing some pharmacies to stop offering them to seniors, which is of particular concern in rural and inner-city areas. In addition, a definition of "mail order" used by the agency would prohibit independent pharmacies from delivering supplies to homebound seniors and residents of assisted living facilities, the group said.

"Many seniors may experience some disruption as both the providers and the equipment to which they are accustomed may no longer be available to them," Hoey said. "Some beneficiaries have relied on their community pharmacy for decades. There’s no justification for banning these trusted providers from furnishing this service to some of Medicare’s frailest populations — beneficiaries who are homebound or in assisted living facilities, at no added cost to the government."

 

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MinuteClinic offering Pop Warner youth athletes discounted sports physicals

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As an official sponsor of Pop Warner, MinuteClinic is offering Pop Warner registered youth athletes a discount on sports physicals.

The clinic operator, which is owned by CVS Caremark, has announced that it is offering an additional $5 off the current $49 price of a sports physical. Sports physicals for fall sports participation are required by July 31 for all Pop Warner programs.

Pop Warner Little Scholars is a non-profit organization that provides youth football, dance and cheerleading programs across the country. There are currently more than 400,000 children in Pop Warner organizations in 43 states.

A Pop Warner coupon must be presented at MinuteClinic at the time of the physical to obtain the discount, along with a completed Pop Warner Physical Fitness and Medical History form. The coupon and form can be accessed by clicking on the MinuteClinic logo on the Pop Warner website.

"Young athletes should get their overall health checked prior to beginning a new season," stated Angela Patterson, MinuteClinic chief nurse practitioner officer. "A sports physical ensures that children are fit to perform at their best on the field, court or stage."

Most other athletic leagues and school systems also require sports physicals. Certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants who specialize in family health care administer exams at MinuteClinic.

MinuteClinic practitioners review medical history and check to see if immunizations are up to date. They record weight and height, and provide a physical exam that includes a check of vital signs and reflexes and an overall assessment of health. They also take time to answer questions and share educational tips about the importance of stretching, hydrating and avoiding overexertion.

Once a child is cleared to participate, MinuteClinic practitioners will provide a patient visit summary that indicates that the child has passed the physical exam and stamp any required paperwork. Copies of the patient visit summary can be transmitted by electronic record, fax or mail to the youth’s pediatrician or primary care provider with patient permission. Typically this occurs within 24 hours. Sports physicals should not replace an annual wellness visit with a primary care provider, according to Patterson.

In addition to sports physicals, MinuteClinic offers camp physicals, currently available for $49, as parents and children prepare for camp season. College and other administrative physicals are also provided at MinuteClinic and are $59.

Insurance is not accepted for sports, camp or administrative physical exams. Payment is due at time of the visit (additional lab charges may apply). Requirements for physicals vary by state, and services are not available at MinuteClinic locations in Massachusetts, the company stated.
 

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