UnitedHealthcare said Monday that Kroger and Target won in the large retail pharmacy chain category (900 or more locations), Giant Eagle and Meijer were the winners in the medium retail pharmacy chain category (200 to 899 locations), and Wegmans and Community Health Centers Inc. won the regional retail pharmacy category (less than 200 locations).
Through the TIP Challenge, the pharmacies work with UnitedHealthcare’s 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 its members, helping to enhance their health and well-being.
The latest UnitedHealthcare TIP Challenge, the third annual, focused on medications used for the treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as medications deemed high-risk for seniors.
“The retail pharmacies we work with have shown an ongoing commitment to our TIP Challenge, and we’ve seen it make a meaningful difference in our members’ medication adherence rates,” Steve Nelson, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said in a statement. “We applaud the winning pharmacies and are honored to recognize their contributions to helping our members live healthier lives.”
UnitedHealthcare identified members who were at risk for medication non-adherence or using high-risk medications. It then notified the participating pharmacies of customers who could benefit from pharmacists’ medication therapy management (MTM) services. For example, customers with a pattern of not filling prescriptions or picking up refills were flagged for the pharmacies, UnitedHealthcare said.
Pharmacists then worked with those patients via one-on-one consultations to address obstacles to medication adherence, such as drug cost, forgetting to take their medicines, or confusion about their medication regimen. In some cases, pharmacists educated patients about the option of receiving a 90-day supply of medication if they had difficulty getting to the pharmacy on a regular basis.
In addition, pharmacists informed customers’ doctors of opportunities to consider evidence-based therapy protocols that could benefit the patient. For example, UnitedHealthcare said, pharmacists consulted with physicians when customers were using medications classified as high-risk for treatment of seniors to determine if a new prescription for a safer alternative medication would be appropriate.
New for the TIP Challenge, UnitedHealthcare donated $15,000 to the American Diabetes Association on behalf of each winning pharmacy, for a total donation of $90,000. The health insurer said it selected the ADA to receive this year’s TIP Challenge donation in recognition of the significant number of Medicare-eligible people with diabetes and the challenges they face in managing their condition, including complex medication regimens.
UnitedHealthcare noted that about 25% of the people enrolled in its Medicare Advantage plans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and for many the care plan required to manage their condition can be difficult and cumbersome to follow. As a result, more than two-thirds of the gaps in care for Medicare Advantage members are linked to diabetic members, the company said. The 2015 TIP Challenge winners helped to close these gaps in care.
“We are grateful for the generous support from UnitedHealthcare,” stated Kevin Hagan, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “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. Initiatives like UnitedHealthcare’s TIP Challenge are an innovative and practical way to encourage medication adherence for older adults with diabetes.”