November 19, 2019 – Oregon Health & Science University Health system implemented a drug pricing tool into its Epic Systems EHR that will help providers discuss medication costs with patients.
The price transparency tool automatically factors in information that is not typically available to the patient right away such as the price of the co-pay, deductibles, and need for prior authorization. The clinician can readily compare the price of the medications and the patient will have the price as soon as the prescription is written.
“Patients will ask me, ‘Is it expensive?’ And my answer is usually, ‘That’s difficult to say,’” said Steve Kassakian, MD, a primary care physician and assistant professor of medicine at OHSU School of Medicine. “Medication costs are really, really challenging. There’s never been an ability for me to see the cost in real-time.”
The tool is implemented into OHSU Health’s Epic Systems EHR, which makes real-time price transparency more accessible. Ultimately, Kassakian believes the tool will force clinicians into selling more affordable medication to the patients.
“Insurers have been using formularies to steer patients to the more affordable and generic drugs for years,” said Peter Graven, PhD, lead data scientist in Business Intelligence & Advanced Analytics for OHSU. “The problem is that patients are still in the dark about the actual cost until they get it filled at the pharmacy. The patients see it in their deductible and co-pays, and the providers may never find out.”
In June 2019, healthcare payer Humana and Epic partnered to implement a price transparency tool into the EHR, which allowed shared decision-making about treatment options.
The partnership integrated Humana’s IntelligentRx product into the Epic EHR e-prescribing workflow. Similar to the OHSU and Epic partnership, the partnership allows providers and patients to access cost information that considers Humana beneficiaries’ insurance information.
“The nexus of these technologies will both improve the provider experience and patient access to care by empowering them to weigh evidence-based outcomes with patients’ individual medication cost and coverage,” said Alan Wheatley, president of Humana’s retail segment. “It’s estimated that roughly half of Humana Medicare Advantage members already see a doctor who uses Epic’s platform, so we are excited about the significant number of patients that will benefit from this partnership.”
Due to the rising popularity of price transparency, data from a 2019 Surescripts report showed a larger share of providers are using price transparency tools.
Seventy-eight percent of responding providers said that they are prioritizing financial responsibility with their patients when it comes to medication. However, 87 percent said that it was moderately difficult to completely be aware of the patients’ medication costs.
Real-time transparency tools are allowing access to information for providers about lower-cost drug options and 69 percent of clinicians agreed that it’s important to have this information readily available.
Surescripts reported the number of providers using the price transparency tool grew by over 1,000 percent between 2017 and 2018. Also, the number of queries rose from 298,000 in January 2018 to 6.3 million in December 2018.
“With prescription price transparency tools at their fingertips, prescribers are eliminating pharmacy callbacks, improving medication adherence, and reducing costs,” said Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton at the time. “And their patients are getting the medications they need, at an affordable price, faster and with less hassle.”
Originally posted on EHRintelligence.com