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Money Talk: 5 Ways to Communicate with Patients About Drug Price Concerns

Money Talk: 5 Ways to Communicate with Patients About Drug Price Concerns by Elements magazine | pbahealth.com


August 1, 2016


Whether it’s speaking with a frustrated patient or experiencing a financial struggle at your independent community pharmacy, the rising cost of prescription drugs is an issue that you have to deal with on a daily basis. And, it’s an issue worrying your patients.

An Oct. 28, 2015 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) identified the top health issues people believe should be priorities for the President and Congress. According to the survey, 77 percent of individuals believe that drugs for serious diseases should be made more affordable and 63 percent of individuals believe government action should be taken to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

With the statistics to prove it, the cost of prescriptions is an important issue to your patients. Is your pharmacy doing all that it can to help patients address their concerns?

If your patients are anxious about the high price of their drugs, here are five things you can do to help ease their concerns.

1. Perform routine medication reviews

Interested in kicking up your customer service a notch, while also helping alleviate your patients’ concerns about drug pricing? The answer is to perform routine medication reviews.

You may already provide personalized consultations to your patients when they have questions about their medication. But you should also consider conducting routine medication reviews for your patients.

Examining a patient’s progress since she first started a prescription will help you get a better idea of whether or not the medication is working, if the dosage can be lowered or if the patient no longer needs to take the prescription.

If your patients fall into any of these categories, you can help them save money should they no longer need to take the prescription, or if they don’t need to take a certain medication as often. As always, be sure to consult with the patient’s physician, too.

2. Direct patients to assistance programs

For your patients of lower income levels, the rising cost of drugs is even more concerning.

One way you can support these patients is by helping them apply to patient assistance programs. Patient assistance programs offer cheaper alternatives to many high-cost drugs, or even free medications to patients who aren’t able to afford their prescriptions otherwise.

You can also direct patients to state programs that offer discount cards to eligible individuals and other assistance. For example, direct them to RxAssist, a website that identifies statewide drug assistance programs.

3. Help Medicare patients choose a drug plan

Like your patients, Medicare Part D plans vary widely. And, many Medicare patients may not know that different plans can help them save money on their prescriptions.

Help your patients find a way to lower the cost of their prescriptions by reminding them to regularly review their drug plan.

If they need assistance, provide personal consultations to help them navigate the often confusing language of drug plans. iMedicare is a helpful tool you can use to identify the plans available to patients that include the pharmacy of their choice and the best pricing on their prescriptions. You can also use it to estimate how much each plan will cost. And, iMedicare works on your desktop computer, laptop or tablet.

4. Reach out to your patients’ physicians

If your patients have complained to you about the excessive cost of their prescription, contact their prescriber to suggest a cheaper alternative if you think it’s appropriate.

Not only does partnering with physicians benefit the patient, you may even be able to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with the physician. When physicians see the time you took to help ease the concerns of just one patient, they’ll be more likely to refer other patients to your pharmacy.

5. Advocate against PBM clawbacks

PBM clawbacks not only cost your pharmacy additional fees, they’re costing your patients as well.

PBM clawbacks occur when your pharmacy submits a claim for a prescription drug, and you’re directed to collect a specific dollar amount for the copay that’s likely excessive and unrelated to the acquisition cost of the drug. Patients may not even be aware they’re being overcharged or that there are cheaper options available. And, many pharmacies are contractually prohibited from letting patients know about less expensive options.

Help your patients save money by taking action. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPArecommends voicing your concerns about questionable PBM practices though social media, contacting your legislators and supporting the work that NCPA and your state pharmacy associations do to address PBM clawbacks.

Working to help your patients address their drug price concerns is a great way to gain long-time, loyal patients. Learn five more ways to cultivate patient loyalty at your pharmacy.

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