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Pharmacy Optimization Improves Care, Lowers Costs

Rene Letourneau, for HealthLeaders Media, August 11, 2014

HealthPartners uses clinical pharmacists in an educational and counseling role to support care team efforts to enhance outcomes, reduce costs, and improve patient engagement.

When Medicare Part D went into effect in 2006, HealthPartners—a Bloomington, MN–based integrated health system with seven hospitals, 27 primary care clinics in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and a health plan that covers about 1.5 million members—started a medication therapy management program to assist seniors with maintaining their prescriptions.  

Pharmacists conduct assessments to ensure that Medicare patients understand why and how to take their medications, that they are taking all medications as prescribed, and that the medications are safe and effective. Patients are also evaluated to be sure that their expectations are realistic about their drug therapy and that any concerns they have are addressed.

"We hired clinical pharmacists who don't have dispensing responsibilities, and we've seen a significant ROI for people who receive this service versus those who don't, especially in the form of decreased hospitalizations and ED visits," says Richard Bruzek, HealthPartners' vice president of pharmacy services.

Both from a clinical and financial standpoint, the results of the MTM program are, indeed, substantial. A five-year study found that 60% of patients with diabetes who participated in the MTM program maintained optimal control over their disease versus 40% of patients receiving standard care. Additionally, a 2008-2009 analysis showed that the total cost of care for patients in the MTM program was 19% lower than for patients who were not.

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