CVS Caremark Launches Medication Adherence Program for CVD Patients

Published Online: Monday, November 14, 2011
Caremark has launched Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care, a pharmacy-based approach to help manage the high costs of cardiovascular illness and improve the treatment outcomes of cardiac patients.

The program, which combines pharmacy benefit management data and solutions with pharmacist interventions, is designed to ensure that patients follow their medication regimens to achieve optimal health outcomes. Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care will initially focus on improving medication adherence for four conditions: hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease (CAD) and congestive heart failure (CHF). Hypertension alone affects 1 in 3 adults and costs the health care system approximately $76 billion a year.

“As a pharmacy innovation company, it is our responsibility to continue to find new and effective ways to help people on their path to better health,” said Helena Foulkes, executive vice president, chief health care strategy and marketing officer for CVS Caremark, in a statement. “The introduction of the Pharmacy Advisor program for chronic cardiovascular conditions allows us to take a new approach to an old challenge. This is another example of how we combine our research and pharmacy care expertise with our unparalleled access to consumers to make a difference for PBM clients and their members.”

The launch of Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular conditions follows recent research conducted by CVS Caremark, Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital that quantified how much money can be saved per patient by improving medication adherence for common chronic diseases. The research, published this past January in the journal Health Affairs, found that medication adherence resulted in nearly $4000 per year in cost savings for patients with hypertension, $1200 for patients with high cholesterol, and $8000 for CHF patients.

Through Pharmacy Advisor, CVS Caremark engages PBM members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions when they are most receptive to messages about prescribed therapy; for example, face-to-face when members choose to fill prescriptions at CVS/pharmacy, or by phone when members choose home delivery. This strategy can help drive behavior change both in the short term and the long term, and can lead to better clinical outcomes. In addition to improving medication adherence, the program can help close gaps in care and direct members with chronic conditions to existing disease management programs, where they can obtain additional support.

The approach to Pharmacy Advisor is informed by CVS Caremark-sponsored research that has shown that counseling with a trusted health care professional is highly effective when it comes to improving medication adherence for patients with heart disease. In fact, pharmacists at retail drug stores were found to be the most influential voice in encouraging patients to take their medication as prescribed, according to the company.

“The Pharmacy Advisor program improves clinical care because we are able to identify and address pharmacy-related care issues that if left unattended could result in disease progression and increased health care costs,” said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, executive vice president and Chief Medical Officer of CVS Caremark. “We are also better able to engage the member in their care through multiple contact points, providing counsel that can improve adherence and help members optimize their pharmacy benefit and find the most cost effective options.”

Last January, CVS Caremark launched Pharmacy Advisor for diabetes, which has successfully facilitated more than 1.7 million member interventions. More than 700 clients representing approximately 12.5 million members will be enrolled in the diabetes program by the end of the year.
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