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For health care providers, policymakers and caregivers, there is an ongoing desire to reduce health care costs, while helping patients achieve optimal health outcomes. But, doing so effectively can be challenging.

One important opportunity may be centered on helping patients take their medications. Two recent studies have revealed effective strategies for improving medication adherence, and thus improving patient health and reducing wasteful health care spending:

The Value of Adherence Interventions in Specific Patient Populations

The Problem: Medication non-adherence costs nearly $300 billion dollars and tens of thousands of lives every year.

The Findings: As published in The American Journal of Managed Care, CVS Health Research Institute researchers found that interventions to keep patients with common chronic conditions adherent with their medications is extraordinarily cost-effective. There is also an even greater opportunity for cost-savings if medication adherence resources are focused on patients with three or more chronic co-morbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. In fact, a preliminary analysis shows that payers could save approximately $38 to $63 million per 100,000 members by focusing resources on these specific patient populations.

The Opportunity: The research indicates that targeting adherence interventions to patients based upon their adherence history and co-morbidities would result in greater cost-savings and a better use of health care resources.

The Value of Pharmacist-led Medication Reconciliation Programs

The Problem: One in seven patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within 30 days. Hospital readmissions are associated with more than $41 billion in additional health care costs per year with the majority – approximately 66 percent – of these readmissions related to preventable adverse health events, such as medication non-adherence and medication interactions.

The Findings: A CVS Health Research Institute study, published in Health Affairs, found that medication reconciliation programs, in which pharmacists review patients’ medication regimens and provide adherence counseling during the patient’s transition from hospital to home, reduced the risk of hospital readmission by 50 percent and helped avoid unnecessary health care costs.

The Opportunity: Pharmacists can play an important role in reducing hospital readmission rates, and related emotional and hard costs, through medication reconciliation programs, which can include the comparison of patients’ pre- and post-hospitalization medication regimens; identification of discrepancies, redundancies and safety concerns; and medication use and adherence education and support.

Investments in data, such as those illustrated in these studies, can reveal unique drivers to help people stay on their medications, and help deliver optimal patient outcomes to the benefit of a broad range of participants in the health care system.

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