INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION

Healthcare’s Collective Innovation During COVID-19 Saved Patients Money on Medications

COVID-19’s shockwaves continue to be felt throughout our industry. But amidst one of our greatest national heartaches, we were also a part of a powerful collective rise to the challenge. Health IT not only continued to innovate, but actually accelerated its progress in critical areas. One of the most notable was prescription price transparency and its impact on medication affordability. 

Because of the pandemic, what once was mundane is now risky, like going into a busy pharmacy to pick up a medication. And the too-common occurrence of leaving empty handed due to cost or other complications came with an even more serious risk calculus of returning again later. Many patients had to weigh the benefit of masking up for another trip out into the world when the call came that a more affordable alternative had been identified, or the prior authorization had finally come through. And when weighing all the risks, many made what seemed like the safest choice and just stayed home, delaying their care and potentially experiencing worse outcomes down the road.

Surescripts 2020 National Progress Report 
Collective Innovation

Surescripts 2020 National Progress Report

In a year that changed everything, the Surescripts Network Alliance® reimagined care delivery and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare.

The crisis made every moment-to-moment decision count even more. And the issue of medication affordability only gained urgency as working families who lost their income were forced to choose between their needed medications and a trip to the grocery store.

Nearly 33 million people were collecting unemployment benefits as of June 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor—five times more than the 6.6 million people who were impacted during the Great Recession. And as of March 2021, 9.7 million people were still unemployed

Now more than ever, getting patients started on their prescriptions as quickly, accurately and cost-effectively as possible is crucial. To do this, we need to free prescribers and pharmacists from the burdens of administrative work and empower them to focus their expertise and resources on patient care.

As an industry, we’re making this possible with more prescribers than ever using technology like Real-Time Prescription Benefit to reduce or eliminate the wait time for patients, improve medication adherence and streamline their communications—effectively lowering the cost of care while boosting both quality and safety.

Here’s the bottom line: Patients need and deserve to know the cost of their medications before it’s time to pay.

And healthcare providers are increasingly sensitive to the fact that their chosen medication only works if patients can access, afford and adhere to it. In 2020, the Surescripts Network Alliance put prescription price transparency to work for more patients, more prescribers and more pharmacists and their staff. 

Digital Transformation Accelerated Through Greater Adoption and Use of Real-Time Prescription Benefit

Real-Time Prescription Benefit delivers patient-specific benefit and cost information at both the point of prescribing and dispensing, so that prescribers and pharmacists alike can proactively address cost concerns and more effectively help patients adhere to their medication regimens.

With 95% of U.S. prescribers served by electronic health records (EHRs) enabled for the service, and 82% of U.S. patients covered by contracted health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the impact of increased utilization of Real-Time Prescription Benefit was significant and widespread in 2020.

Surescripts_NPR2_IIA_IIA Embedded Graphic-2

And for the first time, Real-Time Prescription Benefit became available for pharmacies. Independent pharmacy owner Priyank Patel reported significant results from his three New York pharmacy locations using the solution. He noted that pick-up rates reached nearly 90% (up from 60-70%), and for prescriptions that required resolution of cost concerns, prescription processing time went from 20 minutes to five minutes, a 75% reduction.

But access to cost and coverage information has the biggest impact when it’s part of the initial prescribing conversation. Nearly all patients (94%) who’ve skipped a medication due to cost say they would have been willing to take a lower-cost alternative if their doctor or nurse had suggested one. In response to this need, in 2020, the Surescripts Network Alliance embraced prescription price transparency in a big way. And with average savings of up to $82 on a single prescription, the connection between prescription price transparency and medication affordability is undeniable. 

Surescripts_NPR2_IIA_IIA Embedded Graphic-1

 

Key Trends Transforming Healthcare During COVID-19

Surescripts CMO Melanie Marcus and VP of Business Intelligence Max Sow cover how the Surescripts Network Alliance accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare in 2020.

Watch Now

As we continue to envision a brighter future—and reflect on 20 years of serving the nation—there is only greater and more meaningful opportunity to make things better and more accessible for patients and their healthcare providers. And after 2020, it’s clear that our industry is only getting better at seizing these moments as a collective force of progress through innovation, come what may.

For more about how the digital transformation of healthcare accelerated in 2020, be sure to read the press release and visit Surescripts 2020 National Progress Report.

INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION, DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX