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Analysis

Nearly 75% of Consumers Would Change Pharmacies for Savings

By Jack O'Brien  
   October 30, 2018

Consumers continue to face price challenges for prescription drugs, having abandoned prescriptions at the pharmacy over costs, according to a new survey.

Most physicians have failed to communicate prescription drug pricing information to their patients, who have indicated a willingness to change pharmacies for lower costs, according to a new survey from DrFirst.

Nearly 75% of consumers responded that they would switch pharmacies to save money on prescription drugs, with 38% saying that they would make the move for as little as $10. When faced with price disparities of between $11 to $25, 70% of consumers said they would make the change. 

A large reason for this consumer behavior is the lack of communication about prescription drug prices from physicians, according to Richard Cohan, president of Patient Innovations at DrFirst. Without proper guidance from physicians, Cohan said consumers have not made the most cost-effective decisions with their prescription drugs.

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  • 44% of respondents said their physician had discussed medication costs with them.
     
  • 41% said the physician had discussed cost-saving coupons or filling the prescription at a low-cost pharmacy.

Cohan told HealthLeaders that the biggest takeaway for healthcare CFOs is that consumers are price sensitive to pharmacy costs. He also offered two observations:

  1. Most e-prescribing systems have only indicated through their formulary benefit files that a patient is covered at a plan level for a certain drug.
     
  2. There are many soft costs involved in the prescribing process that require fixes to the friction that exists.
     

"I think physicians somewhat don't view themselves as financial advisors, so it means that the data has to flow elegantly into their EHRs and present in a way that helps them clinically and doesn't interfere with their workflow," Cohan said.

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"I think that over time, the price transparency piece will be part and parcel of the EHR. The payers are aware of that, they know they need to do a better job in moving that information from the various portals to make it actionable in the workflow."

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

An estimated 38% of consumers in the survey said they would switch pharmacies over as little as a $10 difference between prescription drugs.

That number jumps to 70% when the price difference grows from between $11 and $25.

Richard Cohan, President of Patient Innovations at DrFirst, reported that less than half of physicians have advised their patients about medication costs.


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