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Pharmacy retailers win Rx adherence challenge

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UnitedHealthcare honors chains for pharmacist interventions

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MINNETONKA, Minn. — Publix Super Markets, Albertsons/Safeway, Meijer, Giant Eagle, Discount Drug Mart and Wegmans Food Market were named the winners of UnitedHealthcare’s 2016 Targeted Intervention Program (TIP) Challenge to boost patients’ medication adherence.

Through the UnitedHealthcare TIP Challenge, the pharmacies work with Medicare Advantage Part D plan members to help them take their prescription medications properly. Each year UnitedHealthcare recognizes pharmacies that have been the most successful at improving medication compliance rates for members, helping to enhance their health and well-being.

The 2016 TIP Challenge, the fourth annual, focused on medications used for the treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Six winners were honored in three pharmacy categories: Publix and Albertsons/Safeway in the large pharmacy category (900-plus locations), Meijer and Giant Eagle in the midsize pharmacy category (200 to 899 locations), and Discount Drug Mart and Wegmans in the regional retail pharmacy category (fewer than 200 locations).

UnitedHealthcare donated $15,000 to the American Diabetes Association on behalf of each winner, for a total of $90,000.

“Pharmacists have an incredibly important role to play in making sure seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries are taking their medications properly,” Steve Nelson, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said in a statement. “The winners of this year’s TIP Challenge significantly boosted medication adherence rates, which is a critical component of helping people live healthier lives.”

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To identify members at risk for medication nonadherence, UnitedHealthcare enlisted the help of medication therapy management specialist OutcomesMTM. UnitedHealthcare helped OutcomesMTM coordinate directly with pharmacies to conduct outreach to people that could potentially benefit from additional support, such as customers with a pattern of not filling prescriptions or picking up refills.

Pharmacists then worked with those patients via one-on-one consultations to address obstacles to adherence, such as drug cost, forgetting to take their medicines, or confusion about a regimen with multiple medications. In some cases, pharmacists educated patients about switching from a 30-day supply of medication to a 90-day supply if they had difficulty getting to the pharmacy on a regular basis.

Other solutions to aid adherence included a pillbox with separate compartments to help patients with memory issues, and pharmacists collaborating with doctors to find lower-cost drug options for patients who can’t afford a certain prescription.

UnitedHealthcare said the TIP Challenge focused on diabetes because about 25% of its Medicare Advantage plan members have the disease. Many also have complicated medication regimens. Diabetes patients are often prescribed medications to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose.

“Pharmacists are a critical part of the health care team for people with diabetes, helping them stay on track with medications that help them manage their condition and maintain their quality of life,” commented Kevin Hagan, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “Initiatives like UnitedHealthcare’s TIP Challenge are an innovative and practical way to encourage medication adherence for older adults with diabetes.”

Overall, almost 90% of adults ages 65 and older take at least one prescription drug, and roughly 40% take five or more medications, UnitedHealthcare reported. According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, about three in four adults fail to take medications as prescribed.


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