Walgreens study: Pharmacist interventions improve med adherence, lower healthcare costs

November 3, 2015

When pharmacists closely monitor patients taking new medications, patients do a better job of sticking to their regimens and overall healthcare costs decline, according to a study recently released by Walgreens.

When pharmacists closely monitor patients taking new medications, patients do a better job of sticking to their regimens and overall healthcare costs decline, according to a study recently released by Walgreens.

Results of the study, “Improving Medication Adherence and Healthcare Outcomes in a Commercial Population Through a Retail Pharmacy Chain,” were released last week during the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Conference in Orlando, Fla.

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The pharmacist interventions improved medication adherence by 3% and produced healthcare savings of $164 per patient over six months. Patients involved in the study also had almost 2% fewer hospital admissions, nearly 3% fewer emergency room visits, and $38 lower emergency room costs per patient.

The interventions included pharmacist telephone calls, consultations, and refill reminders.

“This data demonstrates that reaching patients when they start new medications through multiple pharmacy-led channels, including one-on-one consultations, can play an important role in driving better health outcomes,” Harry Leider, Walgreens’ chief medical officer, stated in a release. “These interventions, along with ongoing support from pharmacy staff, translate into patients being less likely to end up in high-cost settings like the hospital or emergency room.”

Numerous studies have linked pharmacist interventions with improved healthcare outcomes. However, Walgreens said this study is the first that quantifies the total savings caused by such medication management.

 

Walgreens and IMS Health conducted the study. It analyzed patients starting medications in 16 drug classes during a six-month period. Walgreens patients who received the pharmacist interventions were compared to non-Walgreens patients who did not.

 “A retail pharmacy chain offering a variety of medication management interventions was associated with patients having significantly greater medication adherence and lower healthcare utilization and costs in a commercial population,” the study concluded. “This study demonstrates how a retail pharmacy chain can help payers improve population health and help manage overall healthcare costs.”