Automated pharmacy notifications can make the difference in advance of natural disasters

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Automated pharmacy notifications can make the difference in advance of natural disasters

By Brian Berk - 12/05/2016

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Automated pharmacy notifications can provide the necessary push to encourage patients with chronic conditions to refill medications prior to a forecasted natural disaster, according to new research conducted by the CVS Health Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. The study also concluded public-private partnerships can facilitate timely pharmacy outreach as part of broader community-based natural disaster planning. 

"Emergency departments and medical responders can be overwhelmed by the number of people seeking medical care after a disaster simply because they ran out of their daily medications and couldn't reach a pharmacy due to impassable streets and business closures," said Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response. "The number of people who need medications for chronic conditions continues to rise, and communities across the country need solutions that can help them stay healthy, even in a disaster situation. This study demonstrated how powerful public-private partnerships can be in providing solutions that can protect health for residents and whole communities."

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, had researchers compare medication fill rates of more than 2 million patients who were contacted by CVS Pharmacy in advance of a storm to a randomly assigned control group of patients of the same stores who received no outreach. The research revealed that those who received outreach prior to the storm were 9% more likely to refill their medications within the 48 hours after receiving the notification and before the storm impacted the region.

"Ensuring our patients have their medications available to them is one of our top priorities, and this research highlights how proactive outreach to patients before a natural disaster can encourage timely medication refills which may help ensure continuity of care and avoid adverse health events due to inadequate medication supply," said Kevin Hourican, EVP, Pharmacy Services and Supply Chain, CVS Health. "Operationally, we have the infrastructure in place at all of our more than 9,600 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide to facilitate this type of proactive outreach in advance of forecasted weather events."

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