For U.S. consumers, the pharmacy can sometimes be a bit of a scary place. Many Americans have been hit with a ghastly sticker shock at the pharmacy — learning the exorbitant cost of their medication only after they had reached the counter. The lack of transparency in drug pricing exacerbates this issue, leaving patients unaware of cheaper alternatives or potential discounts. As a result, families all over the country face difficult choices between affording essential medications or other necessities.
A recent partnership between EHR vendor Elation Health and health information network Surescripts seeks to tackle this issue. The collaboration aims to bring prescription price transparency to the point of care for primary care clinicians so they can discuss their patients’ likely financial responsibility during visits.
Elation sells its EHR and other technology solutions specifically to primary care providers. Physicians in this specialty want to provide greater access to prescription drug pricing information and support their patients at the point of care, given that cost remains one of the most significant barriers keeping patients from adhering to medications, pointed out Elation CEO Kyna Fong.
To help primary care physicians have more meaningful conversations with their patients about medication affordability, Elation integrated Surescripts’ real-time prescription benefit tool into its EHR. The tool gives clinicians immediate access to patient-specific medication coverage and cost data.
“Surescripts’ real-time prescription benefit data automatically displays based on information entered in the form, and providers can use that to quickly switch coverages or medications to find the best option for the patient. This includes on-demand formulary data, providing in-workflow access to patient-specific medication coverage benefits as well as cost data for all prescribing providers using Elation’s EHR,” Fong explained.
The point-of-care integration also gives clinicians ready access to information regarding prior authorization requirements, lower-cost alternative medication options and out-of-pocket cost estimates for patients, she added.
Primary care doctors haven’t always talked openly with their patients about costs, but Fong thinks this is beginning to change.
“Until recently, primary care physicians didn’t have access to this type of information. When providers have tools that help them identify affordable medications, they are taking a further step to ensure patients can effectively manage their health conditions — ultimately promoting overall well-being and reducing healthcare disparities,” she remarked.
When providers have visibility into lower-cost medication alternatives, they can steer patients toward prescriptions they are more likely to fill. Cost-related medication nonadherence is a prevalent problem in the U.S., Fong noted.
She pointed out that close to 20% of U.S. adults have reported not filling a prescription medication due to its price in the past year.
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