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The Role of Pharmaceuticals in Value-Based Healthcare

by Clive Riddle, July 19, 2012

Who is the “Working Group on Optimizing Medication Therapy in Value-Based Healthcare” you ask? They consist of National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) and the Premier health care alliance, along with seven provider organizations, formed to develop a “framework for considering the role of pharmaceuticals in achieving value-based success.”

It could seem somewhat self-serving, given the National Pharmaceutical Council was a driving force in the initiative and issued the press release about their newly published framework. However the group does say some interesting things. Their entire thoughts on the matter are published in a web article,  Role of Pharmaceuticals in Value-Based Healthcare: A Framework for Success, in the American Journal of Managed Care.

NPC Chief Science Officer Robert Dubois, MD, PhD tell us “Providers are shifting to value-based care models to provide better care for individuals, improve population health and slow cost growth. Many of these models, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Medicare Shared Savings Program, include quality benchmarks and incentives for reducing costs. As providers evaluate optimal care for their patient populations in these new models, prescription medications should be thoughtfully integrated into the process.”

Here’s the components of the framework they have constructed:

  1.  Success in a value-based environment will depend on understanding the unique contribution of medications and utilizing them optimally across conditions and populations.
  2. Medications cannot be viewed as a siloed expense item in a value-based environment. They need to be integrated so that the cost offsets and quality benefits resulting from optimized pharmaceutical use can be recognized and calculated.
  3. Services meant to optimize patient outcomes cannot be undertaken as a one-size-fits-all approach; the role, impact and characteristics of these services will vary by a patient's condition.
  4. Overall risk factors can be used to identify patients who are candidates for medication therapy management strategies to watch for drug-drug, drug-disease, or polypharmacy concerns.
  5. In each circumstance where there are condition-specific incentives to achieve cost savings, there should also be a quality metric to detect under-use of pharmaceuticals.

The group views ACOs as a centerpiece of value based programs. Doctor Dubois leaves us with this thought: "It is crucial for ACOs to view prescription drugs as a tool, not simply an expense.”

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