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ACOs Not Fully Ready for Medication Capabilities

January 6, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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New research indicates that accountable care organizations (ACOs) have not yet fully developed the capabilities to leverage optimal medication use to achieve their stated goals of improving patient care while reducing overall costs.

The research, conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), and Premier, Inc., looked at the readiness of 46 ACOs representing a variety of physicians, hospitals, providers, and health plans when it came to medication use. They found that while there was some readiness, a lot of the ACOs have room for improvement.

"We've long known that optimal use of medications can be an effective tool in meeting the goals of managing costs and improving quality. We set out to determine whether ACOs are poised to maximize the value of medications to achieve those goals," NPC chief science officer Robert W. Dubois, M.D., Ph.D., one of the article's authors said in a statement. "What we found was that ACOs have not yet achieved this integral and critical component of care."

Some of what the researchers found was positive. Seventy percent of respondents are ready to transmit prescriptions electronically, 54 percent are ready to integrate medical and pharmacy data into a single database, and half can offer formularies that encourage generic use when appropriate. However, the ACOs were farther away on some capabilities.

Only nine percent of ACOs surveyed were ready to notify a physician when a prescription was filled, 17 percent have protocols in place to avoid medication duplication, and a meager 7 percent have high readiness to quantify the cost offsets of medication use and demonstrate the value of appropriate medication use.

Results of the findings were published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy.

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