Walgreens Infusion Services has been selected by health benefits provider Regence to serve its specialty infusion patients in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Walgreens Infusion Services, Regence, specialty infusion patients, site of care optimization program, specialty infusion medications, specialty drugs, health plans, Mike Ellis, Raulo Frear, RegenceRx, Richard Popiel

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Insurer enlists Walgreens for infusion services

July 22nd, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreens Infusion Services has been selected by health benefits provider Regence to serve its specialty infusion patients in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Walgreens said Monday that under the agreement, its site of care optimization program will now be available to the more than 2 million members of Regence. which encompasses Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington). 

The program enables patients on specialty infusion medications to visit a Walgreens alternate treatment site or receive care in their home at a lower out-of-pocket cost, according to Walgreens. The specialty drugs are used to treat chronic conditions such as Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and various blood disorders.

Depending on the medication prescribed, health plans can save 30% to 70% when therapy is given at an alternate treatment site versus other outpatient settings, according to a Walgreens analysis of over 5.3 million commercial managed-care lives from January 2008 to December 2010. For Remicade (infliximab) and Immune Globulin, two high-cost infusion drugs, the same data shows that health plan costs are typically lowered by more than $20,000 per patient annually when provided at an alternate treatment site, Walgreens said.

"We are focused on the patient and our goal is to deliver medications at the most cost-effective and most clinically appropriate site of service," Mike Ellis, vice president of specialty pharmacy and infusion at Walgreens, said in a statement. "Through this agreement with Regence, patients receiving high-cost specialty medications can receive treatment in their home or in our alternate treatment sites. With our clinicians, expertise and multiple points of care, we are playing an important role in the health care continuum."

Walgreens said its site of care optimization program provides services designed for members who are on medications requiring infusion or who have other specialty drug needs. Those enrolling in the program are assigned a patient care coordinator who works with the plan member's doctor on prescription transfers, schedules appointments, and serves as a  contact to supervise the member's needs related to infusion drug therapy.

"We have chosen to work with Walgreens as part of our ongoing effort to improve health outcomes while managing the total cost of care for our customers," stated Raulo Frear, general manager of RegenceRx. "We particularly value their expertise in working directly with patients to help ensure they have a superior experience when they participate in this program."

Walgreens Infusion Services has a staff of more than 1,400 clinical experts, including specially trained infusion nurses, infusion pharmacists and registered dietitians, at more than 75 infusion pharmacies and 100 alternate treatment sites nationwide. Its infusion therapy management programs are offered to patients with nutrition disorders, bleeding disorders and heart failure, as well as to those needing immunoglobulin therapy, anti-infective therapy and transplant services.

"Prescription medications are a key driver of rising medical costs. This site of care optimization program offers the opportunity to help our members significantly reduce their out of pocket medical costs," commented Richard Popiel, executive vice president of health care services and chief medical officer at Regence. "We are pleased to select an industry leader like Walgreens to provide our members with cost-effective and convenient options for their specialty infusion needs."