CVS leader: 'Take your medicine' isn't enough

While the phrase “take your medicine” seems simple, medications only work if patients take them as prescribed. Medication adherence is a key factor tied to improved patient outcomes, especially for patients living with chronic conditions. But numerous factors stand in the way, with access and affordability often serving as barriers to care.

It’s a complex issue that requires a personalized approach to help people with chronic conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, and depression, manage their conditions and ultimately lower overall healthcare costs.

“Patients not adhering to medications has been a challenge throughout my 20-plus years in industry,” said Dr. Alan Lotvin, executive vice president of CVS Health. “Medication adherence was mostly managed in a limited number of ways even five years ago. Now, however, we have more tools, more medical innovations and knowledge about how to treat people based on genetics.”

Dr. Lotvin, who will speak about the topic next week at HIMSS21, said it’s time to shift the narrative from “take your medicine” to “let me help you find the right medicine for you.”

As an interventional cardiologist by training, he said getting patients on the right treatment faster is critical– you can help patients stay adherent to their treatment regiments by cutting out the cycling it can sometimes take to find the right option based on their disease characteristics and latest treatment guidelines.

“We use technology-enabled personalized care, leverage data and the latest treatment guidelines to increase access to the right treatments faster,” he said.

He pointed to a recent study which showed how automated prior authorization, integrated with regimen-level National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, improved compliance with clinical guidelines from an industry average of 60 percent to 81 percent.

“Adherence to guidelines can help patients start and stay on their medications,” Dr. Lotvin said. “This can also mean better quality of life, fewer emergency room visits, and better health outcomes.”

He said as adherence to guidelines continues to improve, outcomes for patients improve, and costs can be reduced along the way – the same study showed a 27 percent reduction in total cost of care when NCCN guidelines were adhered to.

“Technology can help us harness knowledge to identify which medications will be most effective for a patient’s clinical and genetic profile, assess their risk of non-adherence, and match them with the right treatment using evidence-based guidelines, all while in the exam room with the patient,” Dr. Lotvin noted.

He pointed out today’s cancer treatment environment has only become more complicated with cutting edge treatments and ever evolving guidelines.

“Patients are expecting more coordination through digital tools than ever before,” he said. “In their eyes, why wouldn’t we use digital connectivity, electronic medical records, and systems that help to deliver a more personalized experience, and help care teams get desired answers as quickly as possible?”

Dr. Alan Lotvin will share his insights on improving medication adherence at HIMSS21 in his session, “Improving Adherence With Technology and Pharmacy Benefits.” It’s scheduled for Wednesday, August 11, from 4-4:30 p.m. in Venetian Marco Polo 701.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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