ACOs Can Do More to Manage Medication Use: Study

Many accountable care organizations have not yet focused on maximizing the value of medications to achieve quality benchmarks and cost savings, according to a study published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy.

"Medications are a critical component to achieving the lower costs and improved quality that are anticipated with this new model," the study's authors wrote. "Optimizing medication use can improve patient outcomes. In certain circumstances, it can also reduce costs."

The authors surveyed 46 ACOs on their capabilities of managing medications, and found many were doing a few things to better manage patients' medications, but also discovered many aspects of medication management that had yet to be addressed.

The majority of ACOs reported high readiness in the following areas:
• Transmitting prescriptions electronically — 70 percent
• Being able to integrate medical and pharmacy data into one database — 54 percent
• Having a formulary in place to encourage appropriate use of generics — 50 percent

However, there are several other areas ACOs can focus on that can help them better manage medication use. Very few surveyed organizations, for instance, reported high readiness in the following areas:

• Being able to quantify cost offsets and demonstrate the value of appropriate medication use — 7 percent
• Notifying a physician when a prescription is filled — 9 percent
• Having protocols in place to avoid medication duplication — 17 percent
• Involving pharmacists in direct patient care — 22 percent

"Developing the capabilities to support, monitor and ensure appropriate medication use will be critical to optimal patient outcomes and ACO success," the authors concluded.

More Articles on Accountable Care Organizations:
Incorporating Pharmacists Into ACOs: The Next Step for Cost Savings
7 Recently Announced ACOs
Accountable Care Organizations: 2013 Year in Review

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