It’s well documented that patients who take their medications as prescribed have better health outcomes than those who don’t. Despite this, countless Americans do not stick with their treatment for various reasons, including high prescription drug costs, complicated treatment regimens, and limited access to care.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this complex problem. Taking medication is a highly personal experience that each patient approaches differently. The challenge is to identify those patients who are more likely to skip their medications, and take steps to guide them toward a path to better health.
CVS Health is committed to addressing this issue and is leveraging research, including the insights outlined here, to inform patient care and medication adherence strategies, with a focus on helping patients who are at risk for non-adherence get and stay on track.
Insight #1: Initial Prescription Fills Can Accurately Predict Long-term Medication Adherence for Patients with Chronic Disease
According to a CVS Health Research Institute study in the American Journal of Managed Care, patients’ patterns of medication fills in the first few months after starting on a chronic therapy accurately predict future medication adherence behavior. Leveraging these data can help quickly identify those patients most likely to benefit from medication adherence interventions such as periodic “check-in” calls from a pharmacist and counseling sessions offered through programs like Pharmacy Advisor®.
Insight #2: Prescription Refill Programs Improve Medication Adherence for Common Chronic Conditions
Another study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, found that ReadyFill®, the refill program available at CVS Pharmacy®, improved adherence to medications for common chronic conditions without contributing to an oversupply of medication. Those who choose to enroll in the program receive reminder messages when their prescription is ready to be picked up, to encourage treatment maintenance.
Insight #3: Personalized and Simplified Services Can Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Chronic and/or Complex Conditions
Patients with complex chronic conditions, such as heart disease, are likely to have multiple doctors and take nearly a dozen medications, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The findings suggest that the health care system needs to find ways to help these patients simplify, synchronize, centralize and organize their medication management. The results have informed programs such as ScriptSync®, a pharmacy service that enables patients with multiple maintenance medications to align refills and pick up all eligible prescriptions in a monthly CVS Pharmacy visit. These types of services are designed to help patients overcome the unique challenges in starting and staying on their medications and, ultimately, achieve better health outcomes.
Understanding patients’ underlying challenges and finding ways to make it easier to access quality care, can improve medication adherence. Combined with strategies to ensure patients get the right drug for the lowest cost, CVS Health aims to be at the forefront of combined efforts to save money and improve health outcomes for those most in need of help.