As employers begin strategic development of their 2021 health benefits plans, they’re keenly interested in COVID-19’s impact on the pharmacy industry and how it might affect medication costs. The Vanderbilt Health Employer Solutions team has compiled the following recommendations to better manage pharmacy benefits in this uncertain environment—with the goal of measurably improving the health of your employees and your bottom line:
- Consider implementing a medication management program to ensure your drug spend is having its intended health impact. This program uses data analysis to help employees, particularly ones with chronic conditions, take their medicines as prescribed and ensure their medicines are safe, easy to get, affordable and work well together. The program includes medication reviews to help manage potential side effects and even lower overall medication use. When a medication management program is implemented effectively, it’s proven to reduce costs and improve care.
- Design your benefits to encourage and enable employees to receive care via telehealth. Annual wellness visits and chronic condition maintenance visits can all be done remotely to remove worry of COVID-19 infection and time away from work. They can also help increase medication adherence rates and reduce disease escalation. At VUMC, many visits can now be accomplished via a telehealth appointment that starts in our patient portal, My Health at Vanderbilt.
- Consider technology resources, such as trackers and daily medication reminders, to encourage employees to adhere to their medication regimens and stay healthy and compliant with their care plans. Your benefit plan design could include incentives for starting and staying with technology that improves medication adherence.
- Remind employees about mail order pharmacy options to make medication access easier for those who are limiting their trips to stores during COVID-19. Fortunately, policies that restrict home deliveries have been relaxed, and delivery operations have ramped up in recent months.
Overall, your 2021 benefit planning should prioritize getting your pharmacy spend under control and ensuring that the investment you and your employees are making in medication is having its maximum impact on the health and productivity of your workforce.
For more insight into recent changes in the pharmacy industry and a forecast of what’s to come, read our recent Q&A with James Manfred, Executive Director of Retail Pharmacy at Vanderbilt Health.