USA Today: “Technology, prevention will move healthcare costs down”

Medication non-adherence is estimated to cost the U.S anywhere between $180 to $400billion dollars annually. Many in the industry view technology as the solution to increasing adherence in patients and cutting healthcare costs. USA Today recently wrote an article on the subject and how the Affordable Care Act could prevent unnecessary costs in the industry. These include penalties for patient readmission with preventative illnesses and the increased use of healthcare information technology in administrative processes.

“WASHINGTON — In 2014, expect a flurry of changes to continue to bend the health cost curve down, accelerated by the Affordable Care Act, experts say.

Even die-hard believers in the connection between the economy and how people spend on medical expenses are saying this may be the year that proves them wrong, as providers and insurers rush to make changes to keep profit margins high in light of changes in how they’re billed. They’ll be led by improved technology that helps them see how to improve quality; preventive programs that have proven they can save millions in long-term costs; and an acknowledgement that consumers hold the purse strings.

“There is a considerable level of consensus based on several recent studies about how to keep costs down,” said David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, whose report looking at recent research was released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. “I think there’s a lot of work to be done.”

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A perspective on improving adherence in the one third to one half of Americans who don’t take their medication as directed

Learning how to deal with patient non-adherence is one of the most difficult tasks assigned to a medical professional. Dr. Lisa Rosenbaum and Dr. William H. Shrank conveyed their perspectives on the subject in their recent article featured in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The article discusses issues associated with medication adherence and their ideas on how to combat non-adherence. Development in the adherence  industry is critical to addressing the estimated 100 to 290 billion dollar annual cost burdened by the U.S Government. Accountable Care Organizations are also discussed in the article as a way to provide more efficient healthcare methods at lower prices.

“A new patient with an abnormal electrocardiogram comes to your office. He is 53, smokes, and has hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Though he comes for preoperative risk evaluation, he needs more than ‘medical clearance’ — he needs a primary doctor. Given his risk factors and hesitance to change his lifestyle, you recommend aspirin, a statin, and an antihypertensive. When he doesn’t show up for his stress test, you call him, and he says he doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about — he feels fine. ‘Why don’t you wait until something is wrong with me to give me these medications?’ he asks, launching into a litany of justifications for not taking them: cost, nuisance, potential side effects, not wanting to put anything ‘unnatural’ in his body, and lack of perceived benefit. You attempt to educate him about his risk, but he says, ‘No disrespect to you, Doctor, but I’ve just never been a pill person. But,’ he adds, ‘if something were to happen, you would still take care of me, right?’”

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