2022 Medication Affordability & Adherence Impact Report

Want more patients to pick up their prescriptions? Empower clinicians to find affordable alternatives.

It’s no surprise that when patients are prescribed more affordable medications, adherence rates rise. But how big is the impact? New data helps quantify what happens when prescribers and pharmacists have the right technology to address cost and coverage concerns up front.

Study: Pickup rates are higher with Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit

Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit helps prescribers solve for affordability and adherence up front. It sparks informed cost and coverage conversations at the point of care by delivering patient-specific benefit plan and drug cost information—for both the prescribed medication and therapeutic alternatives—to their electronic workflows. Then, prescribers can easily choose options that are less expensive or avoid prior authorization.

We analyzed more than 34 million e-prescriptions for insured patients sent across the Surescripts network in May 2022 and compared those that were informed by Real-Time Prescription Benefit to those that were not.

+3.2 percentage points

We found that across all prescriptions analyzed, the pickup rate was 3.2 percentage points higher when Real-Time Prescription Benefit was used by the prescriber (a statistically significant result).

About the data

These findings align with a July 2022 study published in The American Journal of Medicine. Researchers at a large health system analyzed six months of e-prescriptions written during ambulatory encounters and sent to the health system’s outpatient pharmacies. They compared fill and cancellation rates for prescriptions that were informed by Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit to those that were not. The fill rate for the Real-Time Prescription Benefit group was 8.09 percentage points higher, while the cancellation rate was 5.5 percentage points lower.

Which specialties saw the largest effect?

We also analyzed pickup rates for the 20 prescriber specialties with the highest prescription volume. In all cases, pickup rates were higher for prescriptions informed by Real-Time Prescription Benefit, with statistically significant differences ranging from 0.4 to 7.3 percentage points.

These five specialties saw the biggest difference in pickup rates.

Gains like these mean more patients get the care they need faster. For healthcare organizations, higher pickup rates can improve metrics like adherence scores while averting countless hours of rework and associated costs, like pharmacy restocking fees. And for patients, the financial impact can be significant.

In June 2022, prescribers using Real-Time Prescription Benefit to find a more affordable alternative saved patients an average of $38.70 per prescription.

Real-Time Prescription Benefit makes an impact at the pharmacy

Priyank Patel

Pharmacist Priyank Patel owns three pharmacies in the New York City area. Two primarily serve patients who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. In 2019, Patel implemented Real-Time Prescription Benefit at all three locations. Pharmacists can now access real-time, patient-specific data straight from the patient’s benefit plan.

With these insights, it becomes easy to address cost concerns, avoid unnecessary prior authorizations and coordinate prescription changes within the pharmacy management system—ultimately letting them fill more prescriptions that patients can afford and adhere to. That’s especially important in low-income communities, where cost barriers can readily derail treatment.

In May 2022, Patel shared some of the results he’s seen so far.

More adherent patients
  • First-fill prescription abandonment rates at his pharmacies declined by 50–70% depending on drug class.

  • Refill rates at his pharmacies improved by 10–15% depending on drug class.

  • About 2 in 3 patients take his pharmacist’s recommendation at the point of sale.

  • Saving time and operational costs
  • Each day, his pharmacists avoid 7–10 phone calls to address coverage issues with providers and benefit plans.

  • Based on his pharmacists' salaries and an average of 15–20 minutes per call, this saves roughly $50,000 in labor costs per pharmacy location.

  • By eliminating price checks on medications, each location saves nearly $1,500 in transaction fees per year.

  • Improving CMS performance metrics
  • Real-Time Prescription Benefit helps Patel’s team not only improve adherence, but also more easily identify patients who might benefit from moving from a 30-day to a 90-day fill. By improving measures related to both areas, Patel estimates that he may earn hundreds to thousands of dollars more each year from Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services programs.

  • Data and stories like these make clear that when clinicians at multiple points in the care journey can efficiently access prescription cost and coverage information, patients get affordable medications sooner. Meanwhile, prescribers and pharmacists win back time to deliver exceptional patient care.

    Learn more about how Surescripts can help you optimize medication affordability and adherence.

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