Pharmacy integration helped BCBS of Rhode Island lower costs, improve care

Although pharmaceutical costs are a key driver of healthcare costs, it's frequently assumed that's because of the high price of drugs, specialized treatments for complex diseases and unnecessary prescriptions. Yet studies have shown that medication non-adherence adds up to $290 billion per year to healthcare costs in the U.S.

Traditionally, a pharmacist's role has occupied its own separate silo. They frequently receive and fill prescriptions off-site, and patients often decline their friendly offer to provide information or answer questions. But the physical presence of a pharmacist in primary care offices can be a game-changer. They can provide one-on-one medication consultation and support to both physicians and patients.

In a pilot program called the Patient Centered Pharmacist Program (PCPP), on-site pharmacists were placed in six patient-centered medical home (PCMH) practices across Rhode Island, reaching more than 30,000 patients. Initial patients are Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Medicare Advantage members of any age and members age 60 and older with other selected plans. The demographics reflect patients who are likely to have complex medication needs and stand to benefit from a program like the PCPP.

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