Medco Health Solutions Inc. is working with community pharmacists in New Mexico to help improve care for chronically ill patients, notably in the area of medication adherence.


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Community pharmacists in N.M. team with Medco

June 9th, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Medco Health Solutions Inc. is working with community pharmacists in New Mexico to help improve care for chronically ill patients, notably in the area of medication adherence.

The pharmacy services company said this week that has brought its SOCRxATES community pharmacy program to state of New Mexico employees and their dependents. The care improvement program is designed to help community pharmacists identify and assist patients with chronic medical conditions and gaps in care, including adherence to their prescription medications.

Medco is collaborating with the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, New Mexico Pharmacists Association and the State of New Mexico General Services Department, Risk Management Division, New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority, New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority and Albuquerque Public Schools on the program.

According to the company, Medco and the University of New Mexico trained about 40 community pharmacists to participate in SOCRxATES and learn the most effective ways to identify and address underlying patient barriers to close these gaps in care.

Medco launched its first SOCRxATES demonstration project in Illinois in December 2009.

"The SOCRxATES program addresses several vital aspects of real health care reform. It transforms traditional competitors into collaborators; creates a partnership across private business, public employers and local colleges of pharmacy; and leverages advanced pharmacy technology to efficiently identify and effectively close gaps in care for patients who are suffering chronic and complex conditions — patients who account for 96% of all drug costs and 75% of all medical spending," stated Glen Stettin, Medco's chief medical officer. "We're receiving positive feedback in Illinois, and we are excited to work with our partners to bring this innovative program to New Mexico."

Medco research revealed more than 1,800 state employees, retirees, and their dependents with chronic or complex conditions may not be taking all the medicines they need to stay healthy or following their doctor's instructions. Medicines that aren't taken can't be effective, putting employees' health at risk and unnecessarily burdening taxpayers with higher medical costs, the company noted.

New Mexico's SOCRxATES program is providing gaps-in-care alerts in six therapeutic categories: cardiovascular, diabetes, pulmonary, immunology, women's health and neuroscience. One example: A patient at high risk for a heart attack isn't taking cholesterol medication as often as prescribed by his or her physician. Medco has enhanced the program since the Illinois demonstration project, with the addition of two more therapeutic categories and eight more gap-in-care alerts.

Medco analyzes prescription drug records daily to identify patients with potential adherence and omission of care gaps. Since March of 2011, the company has been transmitting electronic alerts to the trained SOCRxATES pharmacists when potential adherence gaps or omissions are identified. The SOCRxATES pharmacists can then contact the patient to discuss the alert and an action plan to close the gap in care.

The SOCRxATES pharmacists document the intervention result and action plan they create in collaboration with the patient, caregiver, and/or physician. Pharmacies are compensated for their participation in the program for each gap in care addressed through counseling.

"This initiative recognizes the value provided by community pharmacists and creates an opportunity to set a new standard for high-quality, personalized patient care, while helping our valued community pharmacies remain competitive in the marketplace. It's a win for all involved," commented Dale Tinker, executive director of the New Mexico Pharmacists Association.

Added Stettin, "Medco's aim is improving care for its members with chronic medical conditions whether they use the Medco Pharmacy or a partnering community pharmacy. The SOCRxATES pharmacists have an important role, and we are proud to support them with the information and technology they need to help these patients."

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