Surescripts report: Patients want transparent Rx pricing

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Surescripts report: Patients want transparent Rx pricing

By Sandra Levy - 02/18/2020

Patients want to talk about prescription prices with their provider to avoid sticker shock and delays in taking their medications. This finding comes from a new Surescripts survey,  "Prescription Price Transparency and the Patient Experience."

The survey found that more than half of patients had not taken a medication because of cost, and nearly 3-in-10 hadn’t taken medication because of the wait time. Of those who reported that they didn’t take medication because it was too expensive, 94% said they would have been willing to take a lower-cost alternative if their doctor or nurse had suggested one. Both cost and time-to-fill are of particular importance to millennials, 61% of whom reported skipping a medication due to the price tag, while 38% said they did so because it took too long to fill.

“A patient’s decision about whether or not to take a prescribed medication shouldn’t come down to how much it will cost and how long it will take to get,” Tom Skelton, Surescripts CEO said. “With access and affordability driving the nationwide healthcare agenda in 2020, it is critical that providers know the cost of a patient’s prescription based on their benefits plan, as well as the price of therapeutic alternatives, at the time they’re writing the prescription.”

The survey also found that a majority (56%) of patients said they talk about medication costs with their doctor or nurse at least some of the time, but 63% of these conversations are initiated by the patient. Millennial patients are leading the charge in demanding this type of interaction, with 68% indicating that they’re already discussing their out-of-pocket cost with their doctor.

“As a physician, I was trained only to consider the best clinical choice for the patient,” said Andrew Mellin,  Surescripts vice president and chief medical information officer. “But today’s prescribers must consider both clinical and economic factors with the patient in their decision-making process.”

The survey further reveals that patients believe prescription price transparency at the point of care helps them afford their medications (55%), and increases both their satisfaction with their doctor (50%) and the likelihood that they’ll stay with that provider (50%). In fact, 41% of patients said they have referred other patients to their doctor because of conversations they had about price and lower-cost alternatives.

Many patients are willing to make changes in order to have cost conversations with their doctor. In fact, 27% said they’d make an appointment at an inconvenient time, 21% said they’d be willing to wait a few weeks for an appointment, and 20% said they’d be willing to switch to a new doctor if it meant being able to discuss prescription prices and lower-cost alternatives.

Prescription price transparency at the point of care is especially important to millennials and their choice of healthcare provider, Surescripts said. Nearly 70% of millennials say the ability to talk with their provider about prescription cost has a moderate or significant impact on which doctor they choose, compared with 51% of middle-aged patients and 32% of Medicare-age patients. And 28% of millennials said they’d be willing to find a new doctor in order to have cost conversations about their prescriptions.

Surescripts’ 15-minute online survey was administered by Engine Group in November 2019 to a nationally representative sample of 1,001 consumers aged 23+ who had visited a doctor and received a prescription within the past three months.

To view the full report, click here.

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