Another go at medication-adherence collaboration--but this one might make a difference

Council for Affordable Health Coverage brings many healthcare groups together

Over the years, there have been many cross-organizational efforts at addressing medication adherence—the $290-billion problem for healthcare (says CVS Caremark), and the $188-billion lost revenue opportunity for pharma (says Capgemini). A new one, Prescriptions for a Healthy America (www.adhereforhealth.org), organized by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC), might stick: nearly 30 public-interest groups, lobbying organizations, payers, manufacturers and service providers have joined. Significantly, that list includes pharma companies (and PhRMA), the US Chamber of Commerce, physician societies and consumer groups—organizations that rarely come together. CAHC itself represents insurers and employer-payers, among others.

CAHC commissioned a study from a surveying company, Greenberg, Quinlan Rossner (Washington DC), finding that nearly two-thirds of Americans, across most economic and racial divides, do not take their meds as prescribed, and that a quarter of the population have stopped a medication without consulting their doctor. (Coincidentally, Kantar Health, with its annual National Health and Wellness Survey, released data this week that two-thirds of cancer patients [melanoma, leukemia and certain lung cancers] are non-adherent in one fashion or another.)

These data, by themselves, do not represent a changed attitude; adherence has been a recognized problem for decades. There appears to be a changing attitude about what to do about it: “The level of support occurring now is a new thing,” says Liz Whalley Buono, an executive at MeadWestvaco (Richmond, VA), which is a member of the new consortium. “There’s a realization that non-adherence adds to the cost of healthcare; it’s more, now, than just to say, ‘Do the right thing.’” MeadWestvaco’s place at the adherence table comes from its efforts to encourage the use of compliance packaging; the company was a winner in this year’s Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council new-product award. (And HCPC is also a member of the consortium.)

Whalley Buono (and others) point to a specific capability of CAHC: working on Capitol Hill to effect new legislation. The group has a list of five general goals (care coordination; patient education; quality measurement; healthcare IT; and research)—and is expected to lobby for increased funding of some or all of these from the federal government. The Affordable Care Act, and the funding for digitizing healthcare recordkeeping, already provide incentives; more are being looked for.