04 April 2016

Patients eligible for pharmacy interventions experience 3 percent greater medication adherence and nearly 2 percent less hospitalizations

DEERFIELD, Ill., April 04, 2016 - Walgreens pharmacy patients offered a multi-faceted medication adherence program demonstrated 3 percent greater medication adherence1, and significantly lower healthcare spending, according to a new Walgreens study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Population Health Management.

The Walgreens study examined how its community pharmacists and multichannel interventions reduce hospitalizations and total medical costs commonly associated with non–adherence to medications. The research included patients initiating therapy within 16 drug classes used to treat common chronic conditions, over a six-month period in 2013, and comparing Walgreens patients with those using other pharmacies.

The research examined the data from 72,410 patients in each group. Walgreens patient data were matched to de-identified patient data from other pharmacies based on a range of factors, including: drug class, demographics, clinical factors, prior healthcare utilization and costs.

“This data quantifies the role our community pharmacy platform plays in achieving better population health outcomes,” said study author Michael Taitel, PhD, Walgreens senior director of health analytics, research and reporting. “These findings clearly illustrate that the combination of pharmacist counseling, medication therapy management, refill reminders and telephonic and digital pharmacy interventions, tailored to patients’ needs, drive better adherence. Further, this improvement in adherence results in fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, ultimately benefitting payers by lowering the overall cost of care.”

The Walgreens interventions include pharmacy-based patient counseling, medication therapy management (MTM), and online and digital refill reminders. For new-to-therapy patients, these programs included pharmacist calls and consultations; and for those continuing therapy, included MTM consultations, automated reminders, pickup reminders, late-to-fill reminders and face-to-face consultations.

Additional findings from the study included:

  • Walgreens community pharmacy patients had 1.8 percent fewer hospital admissions and 2.7 percent fewer emergency room (ER) visits
  • On a per patient basis, those in the Walgreens intervention group incurred lower total healthcare costs, including pharmacy (-$92), outpatient (-$120), ER expenditures (-$38), and total health care costs (-$226) over a 6-month period
  • Overall, Walgreens new-to-therapy patients had 3 percent lower total healthcare costs then comparable non-Walgreens patients

Studies show that only about 50 percent of patients with chronic conditions take their medications as prescribed2 by their doctors, costing the U.S. health care system up to $289 billion3 each year. Additional research consistently demonstrates that increased adherence leads to lower health care utilization, lower costs, better health outcomes and decreased risk of hospitalizations.

Added Harry Leider, M.D., and Walgreens chief medical officer, “Patients receiving a new chronic diagnosis and medication therapy are at very high risk for non-adherence to medication, and this important study demonstrates how a diverse set of pharmacy and digital interventions improves care while reducing total healthcare costs.”

About Walgreens

Walgreens (www.walgreens.com), one of the nation's largest drugstore chains, is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. More than 8 million customers interact with Walgreens each day in communities across America, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice. Walgreens operates 8,173 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Walgreens digital business includes Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and VisionDirect.com. Walgreens also manages more than 400 Healthcare Clinic and provider practice locations around the country.

1 Osayi E. Akinbosoye, PhD, PAHM, Michael S. Taitel, PhD, James Grana, PhD, Jerrold Hill, PhD, and Rolin L Wade, RPh, MS. Improving Medication Adherence and Health Care Outcomes in a Commercial Population Through a Community Pharmacy. J Population Health Management. (2016).

2 Kronish IM, Ye S. Adherence to cardiovascular medications: lessons learned and future directions. Prog. Cardiovasc. Dis. 2013;55(6):590-600).

3 Meera Viswanathan, PhD; Carol E. Golin, MD; Christine D. Jones, MD, MS; Mahima Ashok, PhD; Susan J. Blalock, MPH, PhD; Roberta C.M. Wines, MPH; Emmanuel J.L. Coker-Schwimmer, MPH; David L. Rosen, MD, PhD; Priyanka Sista, BA; and Kathleen N. Lohr, PhD (2012). Interventions to Improve Adherence to Self-administered Medications for Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Systematic Review


Jim Cohn