CVS Health, Epic team up to lower drug costs
- CVS Health and Epic announced a strategic initiative to reduce patients’ drug costs by increasing visibility around lower-cost options using enhanced data analytics.
- Under the initiative, CVS will use Epic’s population health and analytics platform, called Healthy Planet, to glean insights on medication adherence and dispensing patterns.
- One way the companies hope to lower costs is through use of real-time benefit information and point-of-prescribing electronic prior authorization. This will help to ensure prescribers know the formulary status of medications and cheaper alternatives before writing a prescription.
Other expected benefits include development of a comprehensive clinical database to inform prescribing decisions, increased access to clinical information for pharmacists along with the chance to share in the care plan and a “digital front store” allowing purchases of over-the-counter drugs and durable medical equipment to be entered in the patient’s EHR.
Ensuring prescribers have up-to-date and comparative information on drug prices and insurance coverage could be one step in controlling the nation’s drug costs, which have been spiraling out of control. In 2015, U.S. spending on retail prescription drugs totaled $325 billion, up 9% from the previous year, according to the CMS. The agency estimates spending will increase on average 6.3% annually from 2016 to 2025.
But while drug spending continues to burn a hole in the nation’s pocketbook, consumers are not seeking price information from providers about their healthcare costs — including prescription drugs. In a recent Bucknell Institute for Public Policy national poll, just over a quarter of respondents said they ask their providers for cost information. While consumers were more likely to ask about medication costs than hospitalizations, the need for greater awareness seems clear.
The collaboration builds on CVS’ relationship with Epic, which started in 2014 with implementation of Epic EHR systems in CVS MinuteClinics. That effort was completed in 2015.
This past spring, CVS announced it would expand use of the EHR system to its CVS Specialty care management programs, which includes the Accordant subsidiary. At the time, the specialty pharmacy chain said the EHR “exchanges 1.3 million records daily with tens of thousands of organizations” nationwide and would ease connectivity with providers that use Epic systems.