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Real-time prescription benefit increases prescription pickup rates

Clinicians using Real-Time Prescription Benefit saw prescription pickup rates that were 3.2% points higher than those who did not use the service, according to a study by Surescripts.

Clinicians using Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit saw prescription pickup rates that were 3.2% points higher than for those who didn’t use the Real-Time Prescription Benefit, according to a study published by Surescripts that examined more than 34 million new electronic prescriptions sent to two nationwide retail pharmacy chains and one pharmacy software vendor in May 2022.

Surescripts noted that according to recent data, about a quarter of adults reported that they or family members in their household have not filled a prescription, cut pills in half or skipped doses of medicine in the last year because of the cost while the COVID-19 pandemic has increased worries about the cost of prescription drugs for 45% of Americans.

Surescripts cited another study of diabetes patients, which found more than a quarter underused insulin due to cost. It also noted that 1-in-20 U.S. adults reported that a friend or family member has died after not receiving treatment for a condition due to their inability to pay, according to a 2021 West Health-Gallup report.

[Read more: Surescripts reports healthcare interoperability reached record levels amid pandemic]

“Surescripts is helping to address one of the greatest barriers to improving patient health: the cost of prescription drugs. When a patient can’t afford their prescriptions, they are forced to abandon them at the pharmacy, often leaving serious health conditions untreated,” said Frank Harvey, CEO of Surescripts. “Surescripts gives providers better visibility into patients’ out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions at the point of care, so providers can quickly identify safe and appropriate lower-cost alternatives that patients are more likely to pick up at their pharmacy.”

The Surescripts study also compared pickup rates across 20 prescriber specialties. The pickup rates were significantly higher for prescriptions linked to Real-Time Prescription Benefit for all prescriber specialties. The top five specialties with the highest pickup rate increases include:

  • Endocrinology: +7.3 percentage points;
  • Psychiatry: +6.6 percentage points;
  • Gastroenterology: +6.6 percentage points;
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation: +5.2 percentage points; and
  • Pain management: +4.4 percentage points.

Surescripts said that these findings align with a July 2022 study published in The American Journal of Medicine, in which researchers at a large health system analyzed six months of electronic prescriptions and compared fill and cancellation rates for prescriptions that were informed by Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit to those that were not. The fill rate for the Real-Time Prescription Benefit group was 8.09 percentage points higher while the cancellation rate was 5.5 percentage points lower, according to the study.

[Read more: Surescripts, Diameter Health team up to simplify specialty prescribing, fulfillment]

Similarly, Priyank Patel, owner of Felicity Pharmacy in New York City, reported in May 2022 that Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit led to 50% to 70% more prescriptions being filled across his three pharmacies. Depending on the drug class, Patel noted an uptick of 10% to 15% in refills, meaning patients are continuing their course of treatment beyond the initial fill even in underserved communities.

“Surescripts solutions have not only increased patient adherence by identifying more affordable prescription options but can be credited with reducing the number of time-consuming calls by seven to 10 a day, which equates to an estimated savings of about $50,000 a year for a single pharmacy location,” Patel said. “It’s the efficiencies that Surescripts solutions provide that save time while increasing medication compliance and support business in my independent pharmacies.”

More than half of all prescribers in the United States (620,000) used Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit in May 2022, an increase of 7.5% since December 2021. In June 2022, prescribers using Real-Time Prescription Benefit saved patients an average of $38.70 per prescription, the company said.

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