Friday, January 29, 2021

The Importance of Humanity in Medication Access

Today’s guest post comes from David Holladay, President of CoverMyMeds.

David highlights the value of empathy in patient care. He also shares crucial findings from CoverMyMeds’ new 2021 Medication Access Report. This report provides a wealth of data about medication access, while also highlighting patients’ own stories and experiences.

Read on for David’s insights.

The Importance of Humanity in Medication Access
By David Holladay, President, CoverMyMeds

Like many of you, I joined the healthcare industry to help people. Whether we’re part of a care team or involved in medication innovation, research, coverage support or technology, we seek to help people live healthier lives through the work we do each day. This year, more than ever, we are reminded of our humanity and the role health plays in our ability to thrive.

For this reason, the 2021 Medication Access Report focuses on industry trends, technology adoption and patient and provider sentiment as seen through the eyes of people. People who, like you, me and our families, are facing different medication access needs and challenges that, as an industry, we can help overcome through the implementation and adoption of available technology.

This year’s report digs into how the healthcare industry can help lift access and adherence barriers by shifting provider behavior and adoption of patient-centered technology.


To help bring our survey data and industry research to life, we interviewed several patients with chronic conditions such as scleroderma and multiple sclerosis (MS) and asked about their experiences accessing and adhering to their medications. Here’s a snapshot of some of their stories:

Ashley lost her job as a chef due to COVID-19 and didn’t have insurance or money to pay for her fibromyalgia and depression medications. She was one of the 36 percent of patients in our survey who said they gave up their medications to pay for life’s essentials, like food.

Kathy, a single mother and professional patient advocate, is frustrated by the complicated process of managing her MS. She’s also one of the 50 percent of patients surveyed who are now using telehealth out of convenience. Going to appointments at home helps her to feel more in control of her healthcare and her condition.

Dennis benefitted from a patient-care team relationship by working with his specialist to afford his asthma medication after he became one of the two-thirds of patients surveyed who discovered their medication cost more than expected. Over one third of these patients abandon their prescriptions.

Patricia’s active life was upended when she woke up one day and couldn’t see the keys on her computer. After receiving an MS diagnosis, she worried receiving treatment would prohibit her active lifestyle. When she heard the cost, she was even more hesitant, and Patricia ultimately chose to forgo her prescribed MS infusion. Sadly, this is common: Patients are more likely to abandon specialty therapies than any other drugs during the deductible period of their insurance.


Barriers like complex prescribing processes, affordability and prior authorization requirements can delay time to therapy, leading to abandoned therapies in some cases. However, technology designed to help streamline manual processes, inform medication conversations with patients, support prescribing decisions, and empower patients and caregivers with choice can help overcome some of these common challenges. These solutions include:

Patient Support Services: Specialty therapies, like the medications Kathy and Patricia are prescribed, are often the hardest to access for patients, usually due to process complexity and affordability challenges. In this year’s Medication Access Report, half of providers surveyed indicated they changed how they approach specialty patient appointments due to COVID-19 while nearly one in five providers saw a decrease in patient therapy compliance. Through continued development of electronic patient support services, available at the point of prescribing for prescribers and their staff, more patients can experience end-to-end support to access specialty medications. In some cases, such programs have contributed to a 34 percent reduction in time to therapy.

Prescription Decision Support: Prescription price transparency tools can help overcome affordability barriers for many patients, like Ashley and Dennis. For instance, equipping providers and care team members with tools that show prescription cost, remaining deductible, formulary alternatives, cash price and cost savings programs at the point of prescribing can help bolster affordability conversations with patients — which is a conversation that 62 percent of surveyed patients in this year’s report said they would like to have. And when a prescription cost more than expected, 43 percent of patients in 2020 said they checked a pharmacy comparison app to find a better price, up from 28 percent in 2019.

Electronic Prior Authorization: Due to manual prior authorization management, over one third of providers reported having less time for face-to-face interaction with patients — during which meaningful conversations about affordability, access or social circumstances could occur. Adoption of a robust electronic prior authorization solution can help reduce manual processes and improve patient outcomes. In fact, 62 percent of prior authorization requests submitted electronically receive a determination within two hours, and 43 percent receive a determination automatically.

Learn more about how patient-centric healthcare technology is helping overcome some of the most common medication access barriers in the 2021 Medication Access Report.

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