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Surescripts releases real-time prescription price transparency tool for pharmacies

The tool will allow pharmacists to see detailed cost and alternative drug information in real time.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

Electronic prescription company Surescripts has released a new service that gives pharmacists access to information on out-of-pocket prescription costs and drug alternatives.

The service, called Real-Time Prescription Benefit for Pharmacy, allows pharmacists to work with prescribers and patients to find the most effective and cost-efficient medication at the point of dispensing, Surescripts said.

When combined with RxChange, another service that lets pharmacists send electronic prescription-change requests to the original prescriber, this tool can save even more time. With these two services, pharmacists can find clinically interchangeable medications without having to call or fax the physician.

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Pharmacies within Integra, KeyCentrix, Micro Merchant Systems/PrimeRx, NovoRx and QS/1 are already slated to use the service.

WHY IT MATTERS

This service allows pharmacists to switch patients to a cheaper medication whenever possible and, in turn, save money for both patients and payers.

In a study conducted by GoodRx, over 40% of Americans reported they have difficulties paying for medications despite most people having insurance to help cover the costs.

Also, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems have gone primarily digital. As a result, many patients are now relying completely on their pharmacists to be their main point of care.

"With access to real-time, benefits-based prescription price information at the point of dispensing, pharmacists can help patients optimize the safe and effective use of their medication treatment at an affordable cost," Brian Caswell, the president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said in a statement.

THE LARGER TREND

Recent surveys have shown that many patients stop taking their prescription medication because of the associated cost and wait times.

As a result, these prescription-price-transparency tools have begun to take off. The number of real-time benefit checks at the point of care increased by 336% and more than 250,000 prescribers used them in 2019, according to the Surescripts 2019 National Progress Report.

ON THE RECORD

"The rising cost of many medications means that pharmacists are increasingly challenged by their patients to find cost-effective medication options on their behalf," Tom Skelton, CEO of Surescripts said in a statement. "Previously, this required price checks across various medications and dose-form combinations and multiple callbacks to prescribers, just to get a list of viable options. Real-Time Prescription Benefit for Pharmacy removes this burden and lets pharmacists get off the phone and back to patient care."

Twitter: @HackettMallory

Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org