Medco on CDHC – Support Programs Are Important

In Managed Healthcare Executive (12/1/07), there is a CDHC (Consumer Driven Healthcare) article by Medco which I found very interesting.

  • A survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 70% of those in consumer driven healthcare plans consider costs when deciding to see a doctor or fill a prescription (versus 40% in a comprehensive plan). [This seems like the premise of consumer driven healthcare…you will be more careful with the costs of healthcare when they come out of your pocket.]
  • The study also found that people were twice as likely (35% vs. 17%) to avoid, skip, or delay healthcare services. [I’m feeling better so I don’t need to finish taking that prescription or no reason to go for my screening until my cash flow is better…here is the problem.]
  • The problem is compounded as an employer. Not only can your costs go up but you could lose productivity of an employee.
  • The author talks about a 2005 Medco study which showed the medication adherence is associated with significant medical savings (e.g., $1 spent on Rxs for diabetes leads to $7 in medical savings)
  • The article says that the average number of Rxs per household was just more than 21 in 2003. [I have never seen it presented this way. I always use the number of 13.1 Rxs PMPY which is from 2005.]
  • The article talks about RationalMed which is Medco’s patient safety system that looks at integrated data (pharmacy, medical, lab, and patient self-reported). [I think that this type of data integration is critical to healthcare. The challenge is integration of the data and taking action on it. I would also like to know the predictive value of the system compared to other tools such as ActiveHealth.]
  • It points to some data on generic drugs that is great and which was new to me.

“Generic drugs not only cost substantially less, but they also promote drug compliance. A recent study in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that patients who took a generic drug had close to a 13% increase in drug therapy adherence, compared with patients who took brand name third-tier drugs covered by their plan.”

  • The author goes on to talk about the need to provide patients with information and use tools to drive change. Here were a couple of the points being made:
    • People who used Savings Advisor (an online tool that compares costs) were 60% more likely to switch to a generic.
    • ¾ of people who discussed generics with their MD or pharmacist got a suggestion to use a generic. [I would like to see it for the percentage of people for which a generic was clinically appropriate. Was this 100% of the opportunities or 75% of the opportunities as implied?]
    • Direct mail about generics increased generic conversion by 22% at a savings of $88 per switch per year. [This seems low.]

CDHC will only be successful when companies have figured out how to empower patients with information rather than simply shifting the burden of financial management to them.

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