An unusual pairing of medical and insurance providers has been announced by Merck & Co. Inc. and Geisinger Health System. Individuals will now be able to buy health insurance from the same companies who want to work with them to make sure they take their medicine.
The multiyear collaboration is planned to improve the coordination of care and get patients to take prescribed medicine more regularly than they do now.
According to drugs.com, a clinical drug information resource, as many as 75 percent of patients fail to adhere to or comply with physician-prescribed treatment regimens.
Geisinger is a not-for-profit organization managed by physicians, which treats patients and provides insurance for the costs of doctor visits and services. “It is often cited as one of the most innovative healthcare operations in the country,” according to David Sell of The Inquirer.
Merck, a pharmaceutical company, has operations in Philadelphia's suburbs and 140 countries, according to the story.
"We believe that healthcare is most effective when patients are active partners in their care," said Glenn Steele Jr., president and CEO at Geisinger Health System. "Our collaboration with Merck will allow both organizations to leverage our individual expertise and joint resources to improve patient engagement, including finding new interventions to increase the likelihood that patients will adhere to their treatment plans."
No specifics were given on the financial side of the deal, either about “up-front contributions or hoped-for revenue or savings,” according to the piece.
Sell reports that Mark Timney, Merck's president of global human health for the U.S. market, said Geisinger doctors won't be made to write prescriptions for Merck drugs instead of competitors. "There is nothing specific in this contract about that," Timney said. "A big focus is adherence and this collaboration is agnostic regarding brand or company in what that solution might look like."
It sounds like it’s good for the patient, but getting one to actually take medication and refill it, “especially medicine for chronic diseases, can help pharmaceutical companies because it means more pills would be purchased,” Sell wrote.
HealthPrize Technologies, a provider of medication adherence solutions, asserts that reminding people to take their medicine doesn’t work nearly as well as convincing them of the value of their medications. In other words, make people with diabetes understand just how important it is to measure – and take – their glucose when necessary.
A recent study by Duke Clinical Research Institute found that, when patients are hospitalized, in-house counseling can also act as a push to take medication, as it puts attention to whatever barriers might be preventing them from doing so. Communicating with community pharmacists when patients are discharged, and follow-ups by the pharmacists on whether the patients are indeed filling and picking up their prescriptions as ordered are necessary as well.
Additionally, Drugs.com has released a new and comprehensive pill reminder application for the iPhone (News - Alert) and iPod Touch.
Improved adherence pays for itself, according to Sell, because it can drive healthcare costs down dramatically when it causes a decrease in “catastrophic health events” that wind up in emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
Edited by Braden Becker