Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Population Health News

Population Health Management New Focus for Retail Clinics

By Sara Heath

- Population health management has increasingly become a hot topic in the healthcare industry, as adequate management can not only cut healthcare costs, but help increase the well-being of patients. By making improvements in both medication adherence and care for chronic disease via predictive analytics, pharmacies and other retail clinics can make great strides in population health management. As of late, CVS Pharmacy has started to contribute toward these improvements.

population health management and chronic disease management

Through two recent initiatives, CVS Pharmacy has made efforts to improve population health by tackling medication non-adherence and patient-centered primary care. The retailer introduced its newest program, ScriptSync, in an August 11 press release, stating that it will improve medication adherence by syncing prescription refills, enabling patients to pick up their prescriptions all in one visit.

Medication non-adherence is a major financial issue in population health management, costing the healthcare industry nearly $337 billion every year. Non-adherence also causes unnecessary ER visits and unnecessary testing visits, as reported by HealthITAnalytics.com. By allowing patients to pick up all of their refilled prescriptions on a monthly basis, CVS Pharmacy hopes to make major improvements in this area.

“Our research shows that people with chronic diseases taking multiple medications may make numerous trips to the pharmacy each month for refills, which makes it harder for them to stay on track with different fill schedules and take them regularly as prescribed,” said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “ScriptSync is one more way that we can work together with our patients to make medication adherence easier as we help people on their path to better health.”

Improving medication non-adherence is just one of the steps CVS is taking to help patients managing chronic illness. CVS is also tackling chronic disease management through the use of predictive analytics in a partnership with IBM Watson, according to an IBM press release. By using Watson cognitive computing, practitioners will be able to access data from various health sources such as EHRs, fitness applications, medical claims information, and environmental factors. This data will allow practitioners to predict the decline of health in a chronically ill patient and take proactive measures, and allow them to provide suggestions to patients as to how to monitor their chronic illness.

This initiative will also help manage chronic disease management costs, as a myriad of chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease account for nearly 86 percent of the nation’s $2.9 trillion healthcare spending. By predicting a downward trend in a chronically ill patient’s health, and subsequently addressing it through preventative treatment and lifestyle changes, providers will be able to cut unnecessary costs that accrue due to an unpredicted, chronic illness related episode.

“This partnership will enable us to leverage advanced technologies and key health information to develop a tool that can be applied by a variety of health care providers such as pharmacists, nurse practitioners at MinuteClinics or connected health care providers,” said Brennan. “That can help our pharmacy benefit management clients improve member health and manage cost.”

IBM Watson officials say that a crucial part of this new technology is encouraging patients to follow their doctors’ orders by making them more predictive, customizable, and easily accessible, according to an IBM blog post.

“Working with CVS, we’ll leverage Watson to develop technologies and evidence-based techniques that personalize engagement and proactively engage neighborhood CVS Minute Clinic clinicians before a bad health outcome emerges,” writes Kyu Rhee, MD, Chief Health Officer of IBM.

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