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Over Half of U.S. Patients and 61% of Millennials Report Not Taking Medication Due to Cost

Surescripts’ Prescription Price Transparency and the Patient Experience survey shows that patients want to talk about the price of a prescription with their provider to avoid the sticker shock and delays that can lead to medication non-adherence. Electronic health records (EHR) vendors and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are responding by developing tools that arm healthcare providers with patient-specific, benefits-based cost information at the point of care.

The survey found that over half of patients had not taken a medication because of cost, and nearly three in 10 hadn’t taken medication because of the wait time. Of those who reported that they didn’t take medication because it was too expensive, 94% said they would have been willing to take a lower-cost alternative if their doctor or nurse had suggested one. Both cost and time to fill are of particular importance to millennials, 61% of whom reported skipping a medication due to the price tag, while 38% said they did so because it took too long to fill.

“A patient’s decision about whether or not to take a prescribed medication shouldn’t come down to how much it will cost and how long it will take to get,” said Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer of Surescripts. “With access and affordability driving the nationwide healthcare agenda in 2020, it is critical that providers know the cost of a patient’s prescription based on their benefits plan, as well as the price of therapeutic alternatives, at the time they’re writing the prescription.”

Patients Want to Talk With Their Healthcare Providers About Drug Cost

A majority (56%) of patients said they talk about medication cost with their doctor or nurse at least some of the time, but 63% of these conversations are initiated by the patient. Millennial patients are leading the charge in demanding this type of interaction, with 68% indicating that they’re already discussing their out-of-pocket cost with their doctor.

“As a physician, I was trained only to consider the best clinical choice for the patient,” said Andrew Mellin, M.D., Vice President, Chief Medical Information Officer at Surescripts. “But today’s prescribers must consider both clinical and economic factors with the patient in their decision-making process.”

Cost Conversations Heavily Influence Patient Choice of Healthcare Provider

The survey further reveals that patients believe prescription price transparency at the point of care helps them afford their medications (55%), and increases both their satisfaction with their doctor (50%) and the likelihood that they’ll stay with that provider (50%). In fact, 41% of patients said they have referred other patients to their doctor because of conversations they had about price and lower-cost alternatives.

Many patients are willing to make changes in order to have cost conversations with their doctor. In fact, 27% said they’d make an appointment at an inconvenient time, 21% said they’d be willing to wait a few weeks for an appointment, and 20% said they’d be willing to switch to a new doctor if it meant being able to discuss prescription prices and lower-cost alternatives.

Prescription Price Transparency Is in Higher Demand Among Millennials

Prescription price transparency at the point of care is especially important to millennials and their choice of healthcare provider. Nearly 70% of millennials say the ability to talk with their provider about prescription cost has a moderate or significant impact on which doctor they choose, compared with 51% of middle-aged patients and 32% of Medicare-age patients. And 28% of millennials said they’d be willing to find a new doctor in order to have cost conversations about their prescriptions.

“Medication adherence begins with a shared decision-making process between the prescriber and their patient, and it must be informed by delivering accurate and patient-specific cost and coverage information at the point of care,” said Michelle Forbes, M.D., with MD Pediatric Associates in Dallas, Texas, who uses Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit as part of Veradigm RxTruePrice™, the price transparency feature of her EHR. “Using the price transparency tool keeps the medication decision-making process in the exam room, where it belongs—between my patient and me.”

Today, Real-Time Prescription Benefit is used by more than 260,000 prescribers nationwide. With access to accurate cost and coverage information, integrated into their EHR workflow at the point of care, prescribers can have conversations with their patients about the best treatment and ensure they get the right medication at an affordable cost. Real-Time Prescription Benefit provides prescription price information based on the patient’s benefit plan, not estimates or price ranges, and it doesn’t require the prescriber or the patient to go to other sources to price shop, which can cause delays that lead to medication non-adherence. In one case, a prescriber used Real-Time Prescription Benefit to save a patient $8,032 on a single prescription.

Surescripts’ 15-minute online survey was administered by Engine Group in November 2019 to a nationally representative sample of 1,001 consumers aged 23+ who had visited a doctor and received a prescription within the last three months.

Download the report, Prescription Price Transparency and the Patient Experience, to see more patient perspectives on talking to their healthcare providers about drug cost. Learn more about solutions that deliver prescription price transparency to the point of care.

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