Continuing its push to improve health care outcomes for diabetes patients, CVS Caremark Corp. has extended its ExtraCare loyalty program to provide savings and rewards on the purchase of over-the-counter diabetes-related products plus wellness education benefits.

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CVS expands ExtraCare for diabetes products

May 11th, 2010

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Continuing its push to improve health care outcomes for diabetes patients, CVS Caremark Corp. has extended its ExtraCare loyalty program to provide savings and rewards on the purchase of over-the-counter diabetes-related products plus wellness education benefits.

The drug store chain and pharmacy benefit manager said Tuesday that customers and caregivers can sign up for the ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes now in stores and online.

In addition, CVS Caremark's PBM unit launched a new patient engagement program dubbed Pharmacy Advisor that's designed to help improve medication adherence and close gaps in care for diabetes patients.

The CVS/pharmacy unit also unveiled an alliance with The 50 Million Pound Challenge, a national initiative led by Dr. Ian Smith to help Americans get more control over their weight and in turn stem the advance of related diseases like diabetes. The partnership is part of CVS Caremark's multi-pronged effort to help patients better manager diabetes, encompassing the ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes program, the Pharmacy Advisor program, free A1c blood glucose tests launched this week at select MinuteClinics, and other initiatives.

With ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes, members can earn double Extra Bucks on more than 100 products used to manage diabetes, ranging from testing supplies like alcohol swabs and over-the-counter glucose test strips to batteries for glucose meters. They also can receive special offers and discounts on their store receipts and at the ExtraCare Coupon Center. A monthly e-newsletter with additional savings and tips on managing diabetes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will be sent to all members as well.

CVS Caremark noted that nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, and it's estimated that they spend two to three times more on medical expenses and supplies.

"With 25% of the U.S. population affected by this disease, we understand how important it is for patients and caregivers to manage costs related to controlling diabetes," Troy Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Caremark, said in a statement. "The ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes program is designed to help customers with diabetes, or caring for someone with the disease, to manage these rising health care costs."

Rob Price, senior vice president of retail marketing and advertising and chief marketing officer for CVS/pharmacy, commented, "ExtraCare is our vehicle for delivering personalization and savings to CVS/pharmacy customers, so it was a natural next step to launch a health and wellness component offering extra benefits for the many Americans living with diabetes."

Meanwhile, the PBM's Pharmacy Advisor program aims to enhance diabetes patients' interaction with their pharmacists as a way to improve health outcomes and rein in the cost of care, according to CVS Caremark.

Plans call for the program to be offered to the company's PBM clients for implementation in 2011, based on positive results from a recently completed pilot.

In addition to achieving significant improvements in medication adherence rates and closing gaps in care, preliminary data also suggest the program can save employers on their health care benefit costs, with an estimated annual savings of nearly $600 per member with diabetes. In general, a client with 50,000 employees whose workforce has an average prevalence of diabetes could save roughly $3.3 million a year, or up to $6 million a year if there is a high prevalence of the disease, CVS Caremark reported.

"Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and expensive chronic diseases in the nation, costing the U.S. an estimated $174 billion a year," Brennan explained. "The Pharmacy Advisor program improves clinical care because we are able to identify and address pharmacy-related care issues that, if left unattended, could result in disease progression and increased health care costs. We are also better able to engage the member in their care through multiple contact points, providing counsel that can improve adherence and help members optimize their pharmacy benefit and find the most cost effective options."

Pharmacy Advisor leverages the PBM and the retail pharmacy channels to improve pharmacy care, CVS Caremark noted. The program applies industry-leading health information technology to identify members who are being treated for diabetes and engages them with highly targeted counseling and support through the channels they choose. Member outreach includes educational information, pharmacist-initiated phone calls or face-to-face counseling with a pharmacist at a local CVS/pharmacy.

Evidence-based protocols also are applied to review the member's current treatment and determine if there are gaps in care or issues with medication adherence, the company said. Members are also presented with options and solutions to enable them to get the most out of their pharmacy benefit and identify opportunities for cost savings.

CVS Caremark added that it plans to expand Pharmacy Advisor offerings to include other chronic diseases and types of interventions in the near future.

The six-month Pharmacy Advisor pilot, the company said, was conducted in partnership with a large global steel company in which participating members with diabetes achieved significant improvements in closing gaps in care and medication adherence rates. The pilot used a multistep process to identify and counsel members about gaps in care and adherence issues. Results showed that the process closed a much higher number of gaps in care compared with a control group who were not counseled (58% and 90% higher for phone and face-to-face counseling, respectively). Also, members receiving counseling were more likely to be adherent in every targeted medication class, CVS Caremark said.