Health Care Transformation

Streamlining Prescription Onboarding with Specialty Expedite

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09.25.19

As CVS Health looks to transform health care and contribute to a better, more efficient system, we are looking at ways to leverage and improve the use of technology to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.

This is especially important in specialty pharmacy and why we’ve introduced Specialty Expedite.Specialty Expedite is available exclusively for providers who use compatible electronic health record (EHR) systems including Epic Systems and others that participate in the Carequality Interoperability Framework. All data sharing and usage complies with applicable privacy laws. Patients receive real-time prescription status updates only after providing consent to CVS Specialty. Our connected capability transforms prescription onboarding for our CVS Specialty patients, on average shortening the specialty pharmacy onboarding process to as little as three days and ultimately helping to get patients started on appropriate therapy faster.

Getting Patients the Medications They Need Quickly and Efficiently

For patients with complex medical conditions requiring specialty medications, getting started on their prescriptions quickly and efficiently is crucial to their care. But the process has not always been that simple, with patients sometimes having to wait as long as several weeks to complete the manual onboarding and prior authorization process.

Specifically, the process to get started on a specialty medication often requires physician’s offices and insurers to fax appropriate patient records and/or required approvals before a prescription can be filled, which can be time consuming but is a critical step to ensure that patients are receiving the most appropriate medication.

In addition, across the health care system, the Federal government is looking at ways to help enable and improve health information technology (IT) systems and as part of that, officials have even called for health care to be a “fax free zone by 2020.”

How It Works

Specialty Expedite works by securely gathering appropriate patient information, including insurance, lab work and diagnosis codes via a doctor’s electronic health record (EHR) system instead of sharing through fax. The process also cuts down on paperwork and phone calls, resulting in fewer errors and more efficiencies.

In addition, patients also now have the option of receiving real-time status updates via email or text, so that they can stay informed on the status of their prescriptions and any prior authorization requirements. Patients are also able to choose how they want to get their specialty medications — at their local CVS Pharmacy or though specialty mail serviceWhere allowed by law. In-store pick up is currently not available in Oklahoma. Puerto Rico requires first-fill prescriptions to be transmitted directly to the dispensing specialty pharmacy. Products are dispensed by CVS Specialty and certain services are only accessed by calling CVS Specialty directly. Certain specialty medication may not qualify. Services are also available at Long’s Drugs locations. via Specialty Connect. Research shows that when patients have more flexibility and choice, they are able to start their therapies sooner and adherence and satisfaction improves.

Helping patients with complex medical conditions get the specialty medication they need more quickly and efficiently through technology and solutions such as Specialty Expedite is one more way we are helping people on their path to better health.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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POLITICO Q&A with Dr. Lotvin: A New Front Door to Care

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09.23.19

Dr. Alan Lotvin, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer for CVS Health, recently sat down with POLITICO to highlight how our recently integrated company is transforming the future of consumer health services and addressing needs in chronic disease care.

The conversation centered on the importance of advancing our health care system to meet consumers where they are and when it is convenient for them. According to Dr. Lotvin, “A lot goes into building a consumer-centric health care model. The first part of it is a recognition that we have to organize a health care system around and for the benefit and convenience of consumers.”

Here are four takeaways from his discussion with POLITICO:

  • Managing conditions requires expanded touchpoints care. It can be difficult to improve patient engagement with just three or four doctor visits per year — underscoring the importance of interacting with patients on a more frequent basis. According to Dr. Lotvin, “What we're trying to do is bring more personalized services into people's homes and communities at a point in time when it's convenient for them to interact with us, but also in a way that is on their terms. When they call us to fill a prescription or walk into one of our stores, they're primed to think about their health, and they tend to be very receptive to messages that are promoting health.”

  • Improving patient health is critical to help manage growing costs. According to Dr. Lotvin, the best way to lower total health care costs is to improve overall health. If we can help patients prevent conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, we are able to avoid the expenses that are incurred from managing these conditions over an extended period of time. Dr. Lotvin noted that we must first provide better access to more coordinated care and then take steps to ensure that patients are receiving their care in the most efficient setting.

  • Strengthening care coordination begins in the community. Dr. Lotvin shared the example of a diabetes patient to highlight the importance of providing coordinated, high-quality health care services all under one roof. Anyone living with diabetes should have several annual exams and evaluations. These patients are typically required to visit several sites and providers, which can lead to fragmentation. Through our new HealthHUB model, we’re doing more to ensure that these exams and evaluations can all be done within our own four walls and we can help patients identify the next best action.

  • Analytics are key to improving health care outcomes. Through analytics, we are able to turn insights into meaningful health care actions. According to Dr. Lotvin, the acquisition of Aetna provides the company with the opportunity to analyze health care challenges in a more holistic manner and then identify how we can address them at the community level.

The full Q&A can be viewed here.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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One Goal: Making You Healthier

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09.20.19

Coram Pediatric Backpacks Help School-Age Patients Stay Active

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09.11.19

Coram, a CVS specialty business, provides high-quality infusion and tube-feeding care to patients where they live, work and travel. For younger patients, that list now includes where they play.

As part of enhancing the consumer experience, Coram pediatric patients who receive home parenteral (intravenous) nutrition (HPN) and enteral (tube-feeding) nutrition can carry their pump and nutrition in a backpack that’s sized just for them.

A photo showing Coram’s “Pediatric Pump Pals” enteral backpacks.
Coram Pediatric Pump Pals enteral backpacks.

Coram Pediatric Pump Pals backpacks enable children and teens to carry their portable pump and nutrition while they participate in normal activities while infusing.

About 1,200 pediatric patients use the parenteral backpacks, while nearly 1,600 utilize the enteral packs for school and other activities.

“The entire system fits nicely into these small backpacks for little ones,” said Karen Hamilton, Director of Clinical Nutrition for CVS Health. “They can be worn by the patient or hung nearby throughout the infusion.” As with all home infusion therapies, the intent is for the patient to be as mobile as possible.

“Our backpacks give young patients the freedom to leave the house and live their lives,” said Hamilton. “Gone are the days of being homebound and having to miss out on activities, birthday parties and other events. The backpacks are designed to be fun and not look medical.”

A photo displaying Coram’s “Pediatric Pump Pals” parenteral backpacks.
Coram Pediatric Pump Pals parenteral backpacks.

Providing quality infusion care at home and on the go

Coram CVS Specialty Infusion Services delivers high-quality infusion therapy services in home-based and outpatient settings to more than 183,000 patients per year. Services are provided at more than 90 locations nationwide, as well as through the largest home infusion network in the country.

Coram’s home-based care includes nutrition, delivered either intravenously when the digestive tract is not functional and necessary for patients to maintain adequate nutrition, as well as through tube-feeding. Patients may receive parenteral or enteral nutrition for weeks or months until their issues resolve, or may even need care for their lifetime.

The Coram Pediatric Pump Pals backpacks connect to a portable infusion pump that has been pre-programmed by the Coram pharmacy team to deliver the nutrition over a specified amount of time with each pump customized to the unique patient’s needs.

“I remember the days with the challenges when we had pediatric patients and no backpacks. Then we progressed to an initial mini- adult pack for these little patients,” said Wanda Rogers, Director of Pharmacy Infusion. “This is a wonderful advancement to have these young patients ambulate with color and fit into the typical daily activities.”

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Meeting Women’s Health Care Needs

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09.05.19

CVS Health works vigorously to expand access to high-quality, convenient and affordable women’s health care services through our MinuteClinic, retail pharmacies in communities nationwide and online or in the palm of their hand. As part of our focus on transforming the consumer health care experience, we are committed to providing women with access to the coordinated services and care they need to manage conditions and determine what is best for their health.

Providing Convenient Access to High-Quality Women’s Care

Women, who are often key in maintaining healthy families, access the health system more frequently than men, both for themselves and on behalf of their children. In turn, this means that their own health care can take a backseat to the needs of others.

Many women may find it difficult to receive care at a convenient time and location. For example, a survey conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by CVS Health revealed that 90 percent of women consider the convenience of location important when accessing health services, while 85 percent consider flexible and extended hours important when selecting a health care facility.Morning Consult poll conducted from October 25-26, 2018, among a national sample of 2,201 adults

Our more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations offer a full range of essential women’s health services. These services include access to birth control, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, treatment for yeast infections and pregnancy, urinary tract and bladder infection testing. Additionally, MinuteClinic providers also help women better understand their reproductive health options and provide referrals to primary care physicians or OB/GYNs, as needed.

CVS Health also launched a MinuteClinic University Health program, aimed at addressing the health care gap when young adults leave home for school. Our MinuteClinic locations in certain geographic areas near universities and campuses offer additional services for sexual health, women’s health and well-being screenings.

Increasing Patient Access to Birth Control

Ensuring accessible and affordable medications, including birth control, is a priority at CVS Health. For example, CVS Pharmacy patients can pick up prescriptions ordered through the CVS app on their phone, online, in person at CVS retail pharmacies, or they can have their medications delivered through our home delivery program. Additionally, CVS Caremark Members can receive their prescriptions through our mail order pharmacy, and throughout our network of 68,000 retail and mail order pharmacies.

We also work with public health advocates across the country to ensure that women can be obtain a birth control prescription from their local pharmacist. Pharmacists are currently allowed to prescribe oral birth control medications through Prescriptive Authority and Collaborative Practice Agreements in 13 states and the District of Columbia – covering 2,464 CVS Pharmacy locations. And we will be able to do so in 14 more states by the end of the year.

Affordable Access in the Community

Through community partnerships and philanthropies, we are able to address some of the health challenges women face locally. The CVS Health Foundation has partnered with a variety of groups who are on the front lines of improving access to women’s health services.

For example, we’ve established a multi-year partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) with grants awarded to free and charitable clinics to increase access to care, improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs. Today, 58 percent of NAFC patients are women – and they rely on 1,400 clinics nationwide for services including breast and cervical cancer screening, maternal and infant health and much more.https://www.nafcclinics.org/sites/default/files/NAFC%202019%20Infographic.pdf Since launching the partnership, the CVS Health Foundation has delivered a total of more than $4.5 million in funding to free and charitable clinics across the country.

Addressing Women’s Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer among women and accounts for one-third of deaths annually.https://www.heart.org/-/media/data-import/downloadables/heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics-2018---at-a-glance-ucm_498848.pdf To address the widespread impact of this disease, we help women understand their risk for heart disease and empower them to take the next best action for their health. Throughout February 2019, we provided preventive heart health screenings at no cost in which women learned their five key personal health numbers that help determine their risk for heart disease: total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index.

Additionally, our support of the American Health Association Go Red for Women campaign, includes a new three-year, $15 million commitment to life-saving cardiovascular research and education.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Tobacco-Free for Five Years

Five years ago, we made the bold decision to eliminate tobacco products from all of our CVS Pharmacy stores nationwide, and we’re still the only national pharmacy to do so.

Not only did our decision lead to 100 million fewer packs of cigarettes being sold in the first year since their removal, but we also took our efforts beyond our stores, helping 228 colleges and universities become tobacco free over the past five years and committing $50 million to deliver the first tobacco-free generation through our Be The First initiative.

And with the significant rise in teen e-cigarette use, we’re now working to combat vaping, too, including a $10 million commitment in 2019 to support youth smoking and e-cigarette prevention strategies and education in partnership with Discovery Education and CATCH Global Foundation, and our pledge earlier this year not to work with advertising or public relations agencies who work with tobacco and e-cigarette companies.

Beyond Tobacco: Taking Steps to Transform Health Care

But our decision to eliminate tobacco was just the start. As a health care company now combined with Aetna, we’re taking even bolder steps to transform the consumer health care experience and help lead our customers, patients and the communities we serve on a path to better health.

On our shelves, customers now have access to more health-focused products and services than ever before. And we recently became the first and only national retailer to require that all vitamins and supplements undergo third-party testing to confirm they meet our high standards.

We’re also removing chemicals like parabens and phthalates from our store brand products and we took SPF less than 15 off our shelves.

At the local level, we’re building healthier communities with a $100 million investment in health and wellness, which includes programs aimed at helping people manage the most prevalent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Moving into 2020, we will expand our focus on tobacco cessation and prevention, particularly within the Medicaid program where smoking rates are considerably higher than among all adults. We’ll be working with Aetna Better Health managed Medicaid plans and together with CVS Caremark clients interested in creating or expanding smoking cession efforts for their Medicaid members.

At CVS Health, we know that health is a personal journey. And from tobacco removal to our many other health-focused services and offerings, we’re committed to navigating that journey hand-in-hand with our customers and patients to ensure that the future of care is one in which everyone can achieve their best health.

Features, Stories and Updates

09.03.19

Larry Merlo: Improving and Simplifying Care for Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries

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08.27.19

Today, more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and research consistently shows that seniors value the supplemental benefits available through these plans.https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/a-dozen-facts-about-medicare-advantage

As seniors continue to seek more personalized care, Larry Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer for CVS Health, joined the 2019 MA Summit to highlight how CVS Health is uniquely positioned to address the challenges of health care access, quality and costs for older Americans.

Merlo was interviewed by Allyson Schwartz, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Better Medicare Alliance, who inquired about how the combination of CVS Health and Aetna is bringing care closer to the home, making the health care system easier to navigate and improving health outcomes.

Below are three key takeaways from their discussion. 
    

  • Meeting beneficiaries where they are: As an example of how the combined company is expanding access to care locally, Merlo shared insights on the early success of our HealthHUB pilot program in Houston — a new, community-based health destination that offers a broader range of health products and services.

    According to Merlo, what beneficiaries will experience at a HealthHUB is unique. For example, their visit will often start with a conversation with a care concierge who plays a critical role in engaging them as they arrive, informing them about in-store services and helping them find the right solutions for their individual needs.

  • Making benefits easier to use: To ensure health care works better for beneficiaries, Merlo highlighted the importance of eliminating the system’s complexities. Consider the beneficiary who just had knee-replacement surgery. Typically, the patient has the procedure and has limited communication with the provider afterwards. He or she enters an uncoordinated post-op environment and is left mostly alone to coordinate transportation after the operation, prescription pickup and arranging delivery of additional medical devices for the home.

    According to Merlo, this is where the combination of CVS Health and Aetna makes a real difference. For example, we’ll make sure his or her surgeon is in-network, conduct a home assessment to ensure safety post-operation and help coordinate prescriptions.

  • Expanding touchpoints to care: Helping beneficiaries stay adherent to their care plans requires enhanced communication and consultations. Given our footprint in 10,000 communities nationwide, Merlo highlighted how CVS Health is able to serve as a frequent and convenient resource to beneficiaries. For example, a patient might see her physician four to five times a year, but is likely to see a pharmacist as many as 18-24 times in the same year. Merlo noted that older adults tend to have more than one chronic condition and may take multiple medications. Therefore, our pharmacists can help seniors better manage their daily medication regimens.

    According to Merlo, helping beneficiaries take their medicines on-time and as directed is critical to reducing unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations — as the cost of non-adherence totals $300 billion annually.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Heart Health with a Haircut: Bringing Care to Underserved Communities

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08.22.19
A nurse checking man’s blood pressure.
U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford receives a blood pressure check at the recent CVS Health Las Vegas barbershop event.
A man and a woman check into health screening event.
Community members who attended the barbershop event received free health screenings, as well as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and glucose monitoring.

A recent heart health community event in Las Vegas highlighted our ability to reach underserved communities, diagnosing and treating people who may not typically have easy access to health care services.

The event in partnership with U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford’s office was held outside a local African American barbershop as a way to bring needed health care to an area with few providers.

“Barbershops and salons provide safe places to have honest conversations about our lives, our health and our community,” said Horsford, noting the important role these spaces play as neighborhood gathering points. “The health care shortage in Nevada is very hard on the African American and Hispanic communities, and we need more companies like CVS Health to step into that gap.”

Health disparities continue to be an issue affecting minority communities, including Nevada. In 2017, the African American community in Nevada had the highest mortality rates of heart disease (291.7 per 100,000 people). This is in contrast to the aggregate rate of heart disease among all race/ethnicity groups (206.5 per 100,000 people).Minority Health Report 2019, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health and Equity; http://dhhs.nv.gov/Programs/CHA/MH/

The day’s activities showcased how CVS Health and Aetna are bringing together the combined power of a health care provider and insurer to help consumers achieve improved health. In addition to the free health screenings, including blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and glucose monitoring, a local MinuteClinic practitioner was on site to help patients navigate their health concerns.

“Our vision as a combined company is to help people achieve their unique health ambitions,” said Daniel Knecht, M.D., Vice President of Clinical Strategy and Innovation for CVS Health. “This kind of hyper-local care model allows us to step into the community, and successfully engage with the people we serve in a culturally appropriate and personalized manner.”

Screening results reinforced the need for such care models, especially in underserved communities like West Las Vegas. Over 70 percent of participants had an abnormal blood pressure reading, more than double the national average.https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm

Additionally, over 50 percent had an abnormal glucose reading; the national average sits below 10 percent.https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

Recent studies have demonstrated the key role barbershops play not only in screening but connecting patients to ongoing treatment. In April 2018, a landmark trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found significant, sustained reductions in blood pressure among patients who engaged with a pharmacist in the barbershop.https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1717250 CVS Health is working closely with these national experts to bring the model to more communities.

Horsford, who had coronary artery bypass surgery at the age of 40, understands the importance of hypertension management and living a healthy lifestyle. He noted that events like the heart health clinic can extend health care services to where they’re needed most.

“In the African American community, we don’t talk enough or share enough between the generations. We need to break the cycle of health care disparities,” he said. “I appreciate CVS Health’s desire to bring their services into the community.”

An afternoon panel discussion moderated by Horsford and featuring CVS Health leaders engaged local community leaders and providers in a conversation about the special health care needs of underserved communities and potential solutions.

David Casey, Chief Diversity Officer for CVS Health, noted that the U.S. health care system needs to do a better job “figuring out how to bring personalized health care to consumers not just where they live, but how they live.”

He pointed to CVS Health initiatives such as Building Healthier Communities, a five-year, $100-million commitment to support critical partnerships with nonprofit organizations, as an example of effective public-private efforts. Another new initiative called Destination: Health will help some of Aetna's most vulnerable Medicaid and Dual eligible members access social services within their community more easily.

Las Vegas boasts nine MinuteClinics, which provide walk-in services seven days a week. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants offer expert medical care for a wide array of minor illnesses, minor injuries and skin conditions as well as monitoring of chronic conditions and the provision of immunizations and physicals.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Aetna Empowering Physicians to Fight Opioid Crisis via Best Practices

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03.20.19

Although doctors and other prescribers play a key role in fighting opioid use disorder (OUD), they often don’t have the latest clinical information about the risks associated with opioids. To close that knowledge gap, Aetna is collaborating with Alosa Health and clinical experts to educate primary care doctors in their own offices on best practices for the appropriate use of opioids as well as how to screen and treat for opioid addiction.

The goal? To reduce the number of new opioid users and lower risks for patients who are currently on opioid therapy.

Battling Misconceptions about Opioid Prescribing

“More cautious prescribing can help prevent people from getting addicted to opioids and help those who are addicted to find alternative methods for    managing their pain,” said Andrew Kolodny, M.D., co-director of opioid policy research, Brandeis University, and a nationally recognized expert on OUD.

The “academic detailing” pilot is deploying about 30 trained health care educators  to doctor’s offices in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maine, West Virginia and Ohio, some of the states hit hardest by OUD. These detailers—comprising physicians, nurses and pharmacists — develop individualized education plans with each prescriber and highlight opportunities to improve their clinical practices.

The program is providing physicians with the best peer-reviewed evidence on treating acute and chronic pain and recognizing and caring for patients with OUD utilizing medication-assisted treatments (MAT).

“From 1999 to 2013, prescribers quadrupled the number of opioid prescriptions, and although we’ve reduced it dramatically since 2013, we’re still at three times the level we saw in 1999,” said Elisabeth Fowlie Mock, M.D., M.P.H., an academic detailer based in Maine. “These days, we are seeing a lot of providers who are inheriting patients on high doses of opioids and are not sure what to do  regarding the best next steps.”

Mock noted that the vast majority of patients on long-term opioid therapy who are tiered off appropriately and provided with other, better pain management options report less pain, fewer side effects and more functionality once they are off of the opioids.

“They say that they’ve gotten their lives back,” she said, adding that the program is needed because only 20 percent of people with OUD are receiving treatment for the disorder.

For the AdvocateCare Center, a busy multidisciplinary practice in Chicago that provides team-based care for patients with multiple chronic and acute conditions such as diabetes, heart failure and kidney disease, the opioid education provided helpful insights into the best solutions for pain management.

“It was great to have the training right in our office and be able to easily work it into the workflow of the day,” said Michael A. Richman, M.D.The entire team of social workers, nurses, behavioral health specialists and support staff participated in the training because they all encounter patients daily who are struggling with pain and/or addiction to opioids.

“Our detailer did a great job of laying out options for appropriate pain management,” he said, adding that evidence supports the use of multi-modal approaches such as movement and cognitive therapies, many of which are offered by the AdvocateCare Center. “The materials were easy to understand, and the evidence-backed background she presented was very valuable. The training was really helpful and appreciated.”

Daniel Knecht, M.D., vice president of clinical strategy and policy at Aetna, a CVS Health company, said that the program is helping to deepen Aetna provider partners’ knowledge base and comfort with treating OUD by providing insights around screening and treatment. He noted that many providers haven’t received formal training in pain management or addiction medicine.

Susan Reeves, R.N., a detailer who is working with providers in the Philadelphia area, said many of the physicians she is working with are excited to have access to the latest clinical information on opioids and other pain medications.

“One of their biggest concerns is, ‘What are my options?’ ‘What else can I do?’ ” she noted. “Luckily, evidence-based alternatives like physical therapy, chiropractic care, etc., offer great options. Doctors are relieved to hear the studies about these and other options because they really don’t have time to conduct their own research.”

Focusing on Proven Pain Management Alternatives

Studies of academic detailing have found that clinicians welcome the practice as it improves decision making and reduces health care costs.Academic Detailing: “Marketing” the Best Evidence to Clinicians; https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2598775 It has successfully been used to educate physicians on a variety of health issues, such as atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and appropriate antibiotic use, among others.Optimizing antibiotic prescribing for acute cough in general practice: a cluster-randomized controlled trial; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15282232 Educational Outreach to Opioid Prescribers: The Case for Academic Detailing; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28226336

“Evidence-based detailing programs are important because they provide direct, often in-person support to busy clinicians to help them screen, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic pain as well as substance misuse and addiction,” said Wilson Compton, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Stakeholders from across the health care system, including payers, can make a difference in guiding the safe and appropriate use of pain medication now and in the future, according to Dr. Kolodny.

“Aetna can have a very positive impact on opioid addiction, both through advocating for prescribing caution and by helping opioid-addicted people to have better access to treatment,” he said, adding that he’s “impressed with Aetna’s response to the epidemic by developing innovative solutions like the detailing program.”

The year-long pilot program is being guided by a national group of leading experts in pain management and the national opioid situation, drawn from universities across the country as well as NIDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Aetna’s New Cancer Support Center Connects Members to Personalized Information

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04.10.19

“Take a deep breath.”

That’s how the section of Aetna’s digital oncology hub regarding “navigating treatment” begins – no medical terms or insurance jargon, just a simple reminder.

Dealing with cancer can be an overwhelming experience for patients, families and caregivers. The lack of centralized information about the disease and effective treatments can pose a real challenge both for patients, who must cope with their own personal cancer diagnosis and journey, and their families.

While there is information available online for those dealing with cancer, it can be confusing, contradictory or even downright dangerous when patients rely solely on “Dr. Google” for information.

Aetna is stepping into that information gap by providing members with a comprehensive, user-friendly resource for cancer treatment education and support. A digital oncology hub called the Cancer Support Center is now part of Aetna’s library of online-based member resources.

“Cancer diagnosis and treatment is often the most difficult and physically, mentally and financially stressful time in a person’s life,” said Dr. Roger Brito, senior medical director on the Aetna oncology solutions team. “We made it our mission to try to make that journey a little easier.”

The project was developed as an enterprise-wide initiative, involving medical and content experts from across Aetna who worked together to create easy-to-understand materials that are location-specific and catered to a member’s diagnosis. The information on the hub is structured in a way that reflects a holistic view of the cancer patient journey – from screening and prevention, to diagnosis, to treatment, recovery and beyond.

One of the key benefits of making this kind of information available online is that it can be easily updated to reflect new treatments, standards and best practices. As Dr. Brito points out, many medications used today weren’t even available just a few years ago, so the oncology hub can be continually revised to reflect the latest medical guidance.

“It’s just a constantly changing and evolving state,” he said. “The treatments in two to three years will likely be very different from those we use today.”

The Aetna team identified breast cancer as the type of cancer that affected the most members across all ages and backgrounds (with more than 120,000 claims per year) and chose to launch the hub around this topic. However, the Cancer Support Center will continue to evolve and grow as more information is added for different cancers, including ovarian and prostate cancers.

The support center has been an early success in terms of member and caregiver engagement, according to Dr. Brito, with many visitors coming back to the site repeatedly.

“The goal is to continue to expand the hub so that we can provide the right mix of resources and education,” said Dr. Brito. “We will continue to look for opportunities to support our members and their caregivers to help ease the challenges of this difficult journey.”

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