Innovations to Improve Patient Health
Keith Reynolds, Vice President of Enterprise Health Plans, CVS Health, recently participated in The Hill Live’s Innovating to Improve Patient Health: A Solutions Conversation. There, he joined esteemed policymakers and health care experts representing a number of different stakeholder perspectives to discuss innovative health care solutions.
- Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA)
- Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH)
- Crystal Frey, Vice President of Human Resources, Continental Realty Corporation
- Joyce Knestrick, Ph.D., President, American Association of Nurse Practitioners
- John Rother, J.D., President and CEO, National Coalition on Health Care
- Meghan Scott, Executive Director, Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs
- Thomas Scully, General Partner, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
During the event, which included several one-on-one discussions and a panel, the group discussed the future of health care and specific opportunities to improve patient health outcomes. Key themes emerged from the day’s event, including:
Technology is Key to Enabling Care
Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH) underscored the promise of technology in facilitating access to health care, noting telehealth as a key innovation helping patients – especially those in rural areas. That theme echoed throughout the event, with participants citing its importance for patients who are immobile, those who would need to travel long distances to access health care, or those who simply need additional support to help them adhere to a complex medication regimen. Across multiple discussions, there was agreement that technology is key and that we have yet to fully realize its positive impact for improving health care access and delivery.
Affordability and Access Need to Be Addressed
As Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) noted, the top health care issue for his constituents is affordability. This sentiment was echoed by other participants and several cited examples of key wins and effective solutions that have helped. For example, former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Thomas Scully discussed how, with the advent of Medicare Part D in the early 2000s, seniors for the first time had access to an affordable drug benefit. He also suggested that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) played a critical role in getting that program off the ground and even today, help keep costs down.
In addition, other speakers underscored how PBM strategies help achieve cost savings and address affordability (and by proxy) access issues. For example, formulary management encourages the use of low-cost generics, and Mr. Reynolds specifically discussed how CVS Health helps patients access their medications and more effectively manage chronic conditions. He also discussed how the company offers PBM clients the ability to pass along rebate savings directly to their plan participants at the point of sale, which can help patients manage out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications and is especially valuable for patients in high-deductible health plans.
Team-Based Care Benefits Patients
Multiple participants underscored the value of the team approach in maximizing quality care to improve patient health outcomes, suggesting that this is integral to the future of health care.
For example, several speakers discussed the important role a pharmacist can play in improving patient health, as they often are a more accessible, convenient touch point for patients and can help patients stay adherent to their medications – which not only saves lives but helps reduce overall health care spending.
As part of the discussion, Mr. Reynolds provided key insights into the PBM’s role within the larger health care team, noting that the pharmacy benefit is one of the most widely used benefits within a health plan. As a result, he talked about how CVS Health analyzes the available pharmacy data to provide other care providers along the health care continuum with insights into a patient’s behaviors and outcomes related to their prescription therapies. This information helps the other providers that support a patient have a more informed and holistic view of a patients’ health and can aid in coordinated health care decision making. In addition, he also discussed how CVS Health uses this data to help design health care interventions tailored to the patient that maximize outcomes and lower health care costs.
Finally, Mr. Reynolds discussed how a pharmacy innovation company is a powerful player on the health care team by highlighting the recent example of how CVS Health is tackling the opioid epidemic through an enterprise-wide effort that includes an enhanced utilization management program by the PBM combined with pharmacist-led counseling and drug take back efforts at CVS Pharmacy stores to educate patients about the risks of opioid use and help encourage safe disposal of unused prescriptions.
For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve pharmacy care, visit our Health Care Delivery & Innovation information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.