Metrics for Medication Adherence

Monday, January 11th, 2010
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Of 1.8 billion prescriptions dispensed annually in the U.S., only 50 percent are taken correctly, says the WHO. A review of HEDIS data reveals that 55,000 deaths could be avoided each year by improving medication management of chronic conditions — especially hypertension and diabetes, as we learned last week from Dr. Beth Chester of Kaiser Permanente (KP).

In response to escalating cost and utilization tied to poor medication adherence, the healthcare industry is beginning to hold organizations more accountable for practices in this area. About a third of objectives proposed by CMS this month to demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs are related to the electronic documentation and prescribing of medications, with the care goals of improving quality, safety, efficiency and reducing health disparities.

Two newer HEDIS metrics — one related to medication reconciliation post-discharge and the other involving medication review in the elderly — only give health plans credit when these activities are performed by a prescribing practitioner or a clinical pharmacist, Dr. Chester explained during a conference on medication therapy management in the patient-centered medical home. She said healthcare utilization and costs for KP’s patients with targeted chronic illnesses diminished drastically once pharmacists stepped in to review medications, adding that “accrediting organizations such as NCQA have begun to recognize pharmacist’s expertise when it comes to medication review and reconciliation.”

Several of the stories in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update illustrate the need for tighter management of medications. To learn what your colleagues are doing to improve medication management and compliance in their populations, take our e-survey on Medication Adherence. Respond by January 31 and you’ll receive a free e-summary of the results.

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