Healthcare news you can use v.1

As a trusted partner in bringing comprehensive medication management services to providers, patients and employers, RxLive® continually keeps abreast of the latest things that could impact you as well as our ability to constantly enhance our services.

In this and ongoing communications, we’ll bring you a brief update of some items we think you’ll find of value, and links from sources across the industry to learn more. Send us suggestions at any time for issues you’d like us to curate and report upon.

CVS debuts program for diabetic meds with no out of pocket

Here at RxLive, we don’t recommend any single drugstore over another. Of course, we do often provide patients and their providers input into which medication changes that they should consider, and what discount plans that may be missing.

But because the out-of-pocket costs for insulin and other meds continue to climb while shortages remain, diabetes issues remain in the news. Thus, CVS Health’s new program for employers and health plan sponsors to offer diabetes medicines with zero OOP member costs has attracted significant coverage. While many headlines are focused solely on insulin, the program is designed to eliminate OOP costs for all diabetes medications for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes…without increasing costs for the plan sponsor, premiums or deductibles.

Express Scripts and Cigna announced last year that they would cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin users at $25 per month.

Read more about CVS’ plan here. It’s all a great start to a situation we and our provider partners encounter far too often — patients skimping on their medications, forced to choose between their proper doses, food and other essentials. RxLive consulting clinical pharmacists stay abreast of these and other medication-management options to offer patients the greatest access to the most safe and effective meds for the lowest cost possible.

Drug shortages decline, but many issues still unresolved

The American Society of Heath-System Pharmacists (ASHP) just released an update to its drug-shortage statistics to include 2019 data. The good news is that the number of new shortages is slowing; the less-good news is that long-term active and ongoing shortages are not being resolved.

The 2019 trend is that more oral and topical products are in short supply, especially cardiovascular (ARBs) and ophthalmic products.While many supplier decline to provide a reason for shortages, the FDA’s Drug Shortage Task Force has noted that more than 60% of shortages are due to manufacturer quality issues. The task force also notes that some shortages are caused by a lack of incentives for manufacturers to produce less-profitable drugs.

S.2723, the Mitigating Emergency Drug Shortages Act, was introduced last Oct. 29 in the Senate to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to reduce drug shortages, among other purposes. It was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, where the latest check shows it to remain.

ONC releases updated Health IT Playbook to address clinician burnout

Speaking of burnout…The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) just released an updated version of the Health IT Playbook that focuses on aiding clinician burden, providing information on application programming interfaces (APIs) to improve interoperability, and helping healthcare providers comply with HIPAA.

Developed with input from other HHS agencies, physicians and stakeholders, the playbook offers strategies for health organizations and clinicians to improve their understanding of EHRs and health IT. Principally, the playbook has been updated with information on ways to reduce clinician burden.

As primary care visits drop, worries about preventive care, care management

Programs such as CPC+, PCF and more are focused on leveraging the PCP relationship to better coordinate care and deliver preventive care to improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs. But a nearly 25% drop in primary care visits has some in the industry worried.

Patient access to primary care is the backbone of the nation’s value-based care efforts. But a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that fewer patients than ever are visiting their PCP…a quarter fewer, comparing 2008 and 2016.

While that’s certainly cause for concern, part of the statistics could be positive. The rise in PCP and telehealth reimbursements under expanding VBC-based payment models could indeed represent the “good news” part of the issue. Researchers noted that “The decrease in primary care visits may also be driven by growing use of non-face-to-face interactions (such as secure messaging or virtual visits) or encounters with non-PCP team members” (for example, pharmacist- or nurse-led counseling). Study abstract, Patient Engagement HIT article

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.