Studies have shown a majority of doctors think cost is an important consideration in treatment, but many often don't know the actual costs of specific treatments of prescription drugs.
For instance, a study last year found that “while doctors and students considered it important to be aware of the cost of drugs, this attitude is not reflected in their ability to estimate the cost of frequently prescribed drugs.”
Now, tools such as PreCheck MyScript enable doctors and patients to better understand costs in real time and make informed decisions.
Dr. Steve Milligan, chief medical officer of Colorado-based Fullwell Health, said the key to collaboration between insurance companies and doctors is data “available at the point of care.”
“Providers want to do the right thing,” he said. “They really truly don’t want to send their patient out for a $7,000 drug or a $4,500 or $3,500 MRI. But they don’t have the information they need.”
Launched in 2017 by UnitedHealthcare and Optum, PreCheck MyScript is giving doctors much needed prescription drug costs at the moment they are writing a prescription, valuable data given drug costs account for an estimated 14 percent of overall U.S. health care spending.
The tool provides doctors with precise costs in real time at the point of prescribing – based on a patients’ specific benefit plans and their preferred local pharmacies – and also offers lower-cost alternatives.
It also automates prior authorizations when they are needed, eliminating the need for phone calls or faxes. This also helps lower costs and results in more timely prescriptions, less paperwork and a better patient experience.
Dr. Richard Zane, chief innovation officer for University of Colorado Health, also believes price transparency is a priority and has partnered with RxRevu to integrate PreCheck MyScript into their current workflow.
“Integrating patient-specific cost information within our prescription decision process, at the point of care, enables us to get patients on medications they can afford the first time,” he said. “This improves the care we deliver and enhances the patient experience overall.”
Since 2017, more than 113,000 prescribing physicians have gained access to PreCheck MyScript, generating more than 8 million transactions; and 22 percent of the time a physician is changing to a different drug when a lower cost alternative is offered. In addition, more than 20 percent of prior authorizations have been initiated electronically or avoided.
PreCheck MyScript is projected to reach 80 percent of UnitedHealthcare active prescribers, who prescribe electronically by the end of 2019. It has been fully integrated into electronic medical record (EMR) platforms offered by athenahealth, Inc., Center X (for Epic health system customers), DrFirst, NewCrop and RxRevu (for health systems using non-cloud EMRs). The Allscripts e-prescribe platform will be available in October, and its Touchworks and Professional EMRs will be available in early 2019.
“Through our integration with prominent electronic medical records platforms, PreCheck MyScript aims to improve physician satisfaction and provide them with the tools they need in order to be successful in improving health care quality and cost,” said Tim Kaja, chief operating officer, UnitedHealthcare Networks.
In addition to PreCheck MyScript, UnitedHealthcare offers other transparency tools, such as Cost Estimator, for consumers to look up prices for a variety of conditions and get average cost estimates for their areas. The UnitedHealthcare Prescription Drug List also has made it easier for doctors and patients to find the lowest cost options.
In the coming years, UnitedHealthcare plans to continue to look for additional ways to support physicians with more strategies and cost transparency tools available right at the point of care.