Incentives drive pharmacy focus on adherence
As pharmacies are increasingly held to quality incentives, they are getting proactive about adherence. For example, in March 2019, Walgreen Co. started hiring pharmacists specifically tasked with helping chronic disease patients to become more adherent to their medications. According to Rina Shah, group VP of pharmacy operations at Walgreens, “Our reimbursement model has definitely shifted to not only include dispensing of medications but if our patients are adherent to therapy. There is a financial incentive to our patients staying healthy.”
A holistic approach to adherence
But as Timothy Aungst of the Digital Apothecary Blog points out, the current medication nonadherence argument is flawed. Aungst says the broader problem is optimization of medications, of which nonadherence plays a part. “Not knowing if a patient is taking their medications appropriately causes a lot of problems that can lead to many downstream costs,” he says. “But, just tracking adherence won’t let us know about adverse drug reactions, inappropriate dosage, or other DRPs [drug related problems].”
More pharmacists are needed in clinical care teams to tackle DRPs. But this model is not profitable, Aungst says. “One reason is that it is a logistical nightmare with data collection and is time-consuming. Spending 30 – 60 minutes to do medication therapy management to be paid $40 isn’t worth it when most pharmacists are paid >$50/hr.”
The financial benefits of AI for pharmacists
Aungst says that artificial intelligence can help pharmacists by making data collection and interventions more efficient, allowing them to save time and be paid fairly for their interpretation and recommendation skills, and leading to more medication therapy management services being offered.
Automating administrative tasks leads to better adherence
Ken Perez, VP of healthcare policy at Omnicell Inc., says 76% of pharmacists’ time is spent on administrative, manual tasks, according to the American Society of Healthcare Pharmacists. Perez argues for the “fully autonomous pharmacy,” where pharmacy processes can become fully automated, and AI is used to identify patients who are at high-risk of non-adherence. Provider organizations and retail pharmacies can then optimize their interventions by using prescriptive, rank-ordered, preferred, and recommended intervention lists.
AllazoHealth uses artificial intelligence to make a positive impact on individual patient medication optimization, including adherence. We work with pharmacies to optimize medication utilization, adherence programs and intervention workflows. The result: improved clinical outcomes and increased reimbursement from pay-for-performance contracts such as DIR.