September 2017 – Prescribing Better Platforms: Online Rx and Pharmacy Resources and Solutions

A health plan member’s ability to view and manage their prescription benefits and pharmaceutical services is vital to the customer experience of today’s member sites. In fact, survey results from our 2016 Digital Healthcare Survey, show that 52% of nearly 700 respondents rated “tools to estimate/compare cost of medications and other health-related services” as “very” or “extremely important.” Paired with this, medication nonadherence is an issue that vexes both patients and the healthcare industry. A review in the Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that medication nonadherence causes nearly 125,000 deaths, 10% of hospitalizations and between $100–$289 billion annually. The reasons for medication nonadherence differ case by case but are often attributed to affordability, inconvenience of fulfillment and forgetfulness. The high rate of medication nonadherence and the need for member knowledge highlight the importance of having these resources readily available on the member sites. This Healthcare Monitor Report analyzes strategies used by health plans to promote medication adherence as well as other resources to help members understand and manage their pharmacy and prescription benefits and online services.

Cost is a prominent issue that many companies have identified as an opportunity to improve access to medications. Several firms covered in this report have developed tools for members to switch to lower cost alternatives. Further capitalizing on this, we see some firms excel in providing real-time drug cost information including a member’s prescription benefits. Among respondents who access their insurer’s member site, 21% have looked up their prescription history. We found firms commonly addressing the inconvenience of fulfillment void. Given that millions of prescriptions remain unfilled per year, 89% of the firms covered offer members some sort of online prescription order and delivery functionality. Of those, the best-in-class firms offer digital pharmacies focused on user-centric design and a consumer driven experience with Amazon-like order and tracking capabilities. In our same survey, 53% of the respondents rated “online pharmacy where I can start or refill a prescription and shop for medication” as either a “very important” or “extremely important” component to a member website. Lastly, in addressing the forgetfulness factor, 75% of firms covered in this report offer prescription or pharmacy reminders for refills and order statuses while only 33% offer medication adherence reminders and alert preferences.