Contributed by CVS Caremark, CU Quarterly, June 2012
CVS/pharmacy is informing pharmacy customers about the importance of a single “pharmacy home” for all of their prescriptions to help them on their path to better health. Insights gained from extensive health policy research have pointed to new ways customers can stay healthy and save money. For example, patients who use one pharmacy are more likely to stay on their medications; talking with their pharmacist can make them twice as likely to take their medications as prescribed; and taking medications as prescribed can lower health care costs by thousands of dollars annually.
These research-based facts are important for all patients taking medications to understand so they not only feel better, but also save money. This is especially true for older patients who take two to three times as many prescription medications as those under 65. Having a “pharmacy home” for all of their prescriptions helps patients guard against potential drug interactions. It also encourages the development of a relationship with their pharmacist, who can counsel on the role of medications in treating their health conditions and the importance of staying on prescription therapies to improve their health and reduce their overall health care costs.
A pharmacist in a faceto- face setting is the most effective health care professional at encouraging patients to take medications as prescribed. When patients fill all of their prescriptions at a single pharmacy, the pharmacists are in a better position to help them on their path to better health.
Research conducted with Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital confirms the effectiveness of pharmacists in getting patients to take their medications. This study focused on interventions with diabetic patients between October 2009 and April 2010; the study included an intervention group of 5,123 people who were proactively counseled by retail and call center pharmacists and a control group of 24,124 patients with diabetes who did not receive specialized counseling. The researchers measured improvement in patient adherence and medication initiation rates of therapies for diabetes.
The research showed that contacts by pharmacists with the patients and their doctors increased therapy initiation rates by as much as 39 percent for the full sample and an even higher rate of 68 percent for the group counseled at retail stores. The researchers also noted that faceto- face counseling by retail store pharmacists resulted in an overall increase in adherence rates by 3.9 percent (as measured by medication possession ratio). The study estimated that there was a return on investment of $3 for every $1 spent on additional counseling.