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Study identifies how medicine use improvements can save billions worldwide

A new global study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics identifies six levers that can be used to increase medication adherence, possibly saving some $500 billion in healthcare spending worldwide.

Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute said the study shows that policies and practices that govern the use of medication are an essential and under-appreciated piece of the global healthcare puzzle.

“Harnessing available information to set priorities, monitor progress and support behavior change among healthcare stakeholders – including policymakers, payers, clinicians, nurses, pharmacists and patients – is a vital first step,” he said.

[See also: 4 ways patient engagement reduces healthcare costs.]

Aitken said the increasing use of data in healthcare makes this a good time to apply the levers suggested by the study to lower healthcare costs, which are:

  • Increase medicine adherence by addressing patient beliefs and behaviors at the point of prescription and during medicine intake.
  • Ensure timely medicine use that prevents avoidable and costly consequences among patients with highly prevalent diseases that increase in severity if diagnosis and treatment are delayed.
  • Optimize antibiotic use to turn the tide on rising antimicrobial resistance worldwide due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics.
  • Prevent medication errors throughout the medicine provision pathway, from prescription to administration.
  • Use low-cost and safe generic drugs where available to leverage the under-exploited opportunity in post-patent expiry markets.
  • Manage polypharmacy where the concurrent use of multiple medicines, particularly among the elderly, risks costly complications and adverse events.

“Not all of this is new. Adherence is not new,” he added. What is new, however, is the ability to use data and predictive modeling to find which patients best respond to what type of medication adherence reminders, he said. Some need a visit from a nurse, which is more costly than using a text or a tweet. Predictive modeling can help an organization use resources wisely to get the most adherence from patients.

As noted in a press release about the study, in order to maximize the impact of the levers, multi-stakeholder engagement is critical.

IMS is getting interest in the study from a broad range of stakeholders, including payers, governments, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists and medicine wholesalers said Aitken.

“We are hoping that what we’re doing is triggering a significant amount of renewed discussion in some of these areas,” Aitken said.


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