Walgreens medication adherence program produces promising outcomes, study finds

Walgreens has published a study in the journal Population Health Management that shows the company's multi-faceted medication adherence program produced 3 percent greater medication adherence and significantly lower healthcare spending than produced in patients at other pharmacies.

The Walgreens study examined how its community pharmacists and multichannel interventions reduce hospitalizations and total medical costs commonly associated with non–adherence to medications. The research included patients initiating therapy within 16 drug classes used to treat common chronic conditions, over a six-month period in 2013, and comparing Walgreens patients with those using other pharmacies.

The intervention program included pharmacy-based patient counseling, medication therapy management, online and digital refill reminders, and — for new-to-therapy patients —pharmacist calls and consultations.

The authors of the study examined data from 72,410 patients initiating therapy within 16 drug classes and compared the results with those using other pharmacies. The patient data were de-identified of factors such as drug class, demographics, clinical factors, prior healthcare utilization and costs.

Ultimately, the study revealed:

1. Walgreens patients reported 1.8 percent fewer hospital admissions and 2.7 percent fewer emergency room visits than patients who weren't participating in the program.

2. Patients in the Walgreens intervention group incurred lower pharmacy costs (-$92), outpatient costs (-$120), ER expenditures (-$38) and total healthcare costs (-$226) over a 6-month period.

3. All total, new-to-therapy Walgreens patients had 3 percent lower total healthcare costs then comparable non-Walgreens patients.

"Patients receiving a new chronic diagnosis and medication therapy are at very high risk for non-adherence to medication, and this important study demonstrates how a diverse set of pharmacy and digital interventions improves care while reducing total healthcare costs," said Walgreens CMO Harry Leider, MD.



More articles on medication adherence:
Nearly half of skin infection patients suffer secondary infections due to poor antibiotic adherence
Population health program reduces heart disease risk factors in local community
Primary care physicians significantly overestimate rate of medication adherence among Medicare beneficiaries

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