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CVS Caremark outlines results of personalized consumer communications program


WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark outlined on Tuesday at a consumer health engagement conference the results of a personalized consumer communications program designed to encourage patients to take their medications as doctors direct.

Early results of the program showed increases in consumers signing up for automatic prescription refills and more readily substituting branded medications for generic medicines to lower costs.

The program is part of a collaboration CVS Caremark has initiated with behavioral economists from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon University. Kevin Volpp from Wharton, Punam Keller from Tuck and George Loewenstein from Carnegie Mellon are members of CVS Caremark's Behavior Change Research Partnership, formed by the company to apply behavioral economics to improve how pharmacy care is provided to customers.

The findings from the research were outlined by Bari Harlam, SVP member engagement for CVS Caremark, at Silverlink's RESULTS 2011: The Consumer Health Engagement Conference. The conference, held in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, focused on innovative ways healthcare companies can engage consumers to take a more active role in their healthcare decisions.

In her remarks, Harlam said that CVS Caremark is measuring the impact of different communications using behavioral science principles on making messages timely, relevant, easy to understand and easy to implement. In addition, such information can be tailored to outline individual medication and cost options to give consumers a chance to consider their own potential cost savings.

"By giving patients who are signing up for prescriptions online an active choice concerning their care, we have seen a significant improvement in the number of people signing up for our automatic prescription refill program," Harlam said. "By providing personalized prescription guides that outline options in easy-to-understand language — whether the communications be on the telephone, face-to-face with pharmacists or by letter — we are seeing an increase in the numbers of patients willing to consider generics."

Harlam said CVS Caremark is investing in behavioral change research and ways to enhance communication as part of its effort to improve customer service to keep patients adherent to their medicines. By helping customers take their medications as doctors direct, they can avoid unnecessary healthcare costs and hospitalizations.

CVS Caremark also has invested in research targeting medication adherence through a three-year collaboration with Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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