Woonsocket, RI. – CVS Health recently announced a new tool available to pharmacists and patients. The goal? To help instantly compare your insurance plan against available therapies to help lower (potentially) the overall expense associated with your medication.
This new tool, available online for pharmacists and embedded in the CVS app for patients, easily compares and helps find a less expensive option, if it exists. When a new option does fit the bill, the patient can then ask for a new script from their physician and the patient immediately feels the savings.
The early results are showing a $75, on average, savings and this includes pharmacists having the ability to also flag a savings in a 90-day fill versus the traditional 30-day fill.
You can read more about this new tool, here, originally reported by the Washington Post.
Why This Matters –
On the surface, this new tool sounds great. In the past I am guessing a pharmacist would have an arduous process in front of them if a patient asked ‘Is there a less expensive option?’ Therefore, granting access to not only make it easier for the healthcare professional AND put the power in the consumers’ hands is only going to be a win for CVS.
However, this new tool and positioning leave me with a couple of questions:
- While there is an average savings of $75 being realized for the patient’s pocket, does this actually reduce drug pricing overall? Will this (pointing patients to different options) lower overall drug pricing over time?
- Once an identified savings occurs, the customer experience isn’t optimal. Needing to go back to your doctors office to get a new script sounds like an option many consumers won’t bother following through. Especially if they need the new therapy to start immediately.
Two possible solutions:
- It will be interesting to see (after this program has been out for a while) a study done on overall drug reduction – brands are becoming more and more transparent to their drug pricing. This new tool will inevitably produce data to help bring this to the surface. We can only hope this is translated and contextualized.
- More and more pharmacies/pharmacists are teaming up with physicians and their offices (see our current health care trend #5 on examples of this already taking place in the market). It would be great to see a pilot by CVS that hands the pharmacist the control to make the switch on behalf of the doctor for the patient.
It is always great to see new tools and innovative ways to bring data to the forefront and in the end, impact the patient. While this solution still has time to prove it’s overall worth, it is a promising and welcomed addition to any consumer’s healthcare toolbox.