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CVS exec: Better communications, better Rx adherence
May 24th, 2011
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – A personalized consumer communications program aimed at encouraging patients to take their medications as doctors direct is yielding some promising results, according to CVS Caremark Corp.
Bari Harlam, senior vice president of member engagement at CVS Caremark, outlined findings from the program, part of a research partnership formed by the company, on Tuesday at Silverlink's Results 2011: The Consumer Health Engagement Conference in Boston. The two-day event focuses on ways that health care companies can better engage consumers to take a more active role in their health care decisions.
According to Harlam, early results of the communications program show increases in consumers signing up for automatic prescription refills and more readily substituting generic medications for brand medicines to lower costs.
The program stems from a collaboration CVS Caremark has initiated with behavioral economists from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon University. Kevin Volpp from Wharton, Punam Keller from Tuck and George Loewenstein from Carnegie Mellon are members of the Behavior Change Research Partnership (BCRP), created by CVS Caremark to apply behavioral economics to improve pharmacy care.
In her remarks, Harlam said CVS Caremark is measuring the impact of various communication vehicles using behavioral science principles of making messages timely, relevant, easy to understand and easy to implement. Such information also can be tailored to outline individual medication and cost options to give consumers a chance to consider their potential cost savings.
"By giving patients who are signing up for prescriptions online an active choice concerning their care, we have seen a significant improvement in the number of people signing up for our automatic prescription refill program," Harlam explained. "By providing personalized prescription guides that outline options in easy to understand language — whether the communications be on the telephone, face-to-face with pharmacists or by letter — we are seeing an increase in the numbers of patients willing to consider generics."
CVS Caremark noted that it's investing in behavioral change research and continuous efforts to enhance communication to improve customer service to keep patients adherent to their medicines — in turn, helping them avoid unnecessary health care costs and hospitalizations.
"These programs are exciting because they offer the opportunity to improve the quality of pharmacy care while helping to reduce overall medical costs," Harlam stated.
CVS Caremark has also invested in research targeting medication adherence through a three-year collaboration with Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital.