How employers can use technology to reduce pharmacy benefit costs.
Every year the cost to sustain current pharmaceutical benefits for employees is on the rise. Increased drug costs and prevalence of specialty medications have put a significant burden on the employer. There have been many attempts by larger corporations to rein in the costs by using pharmacy benefit managers and insurance sponsored preferred pharmacy networks. The strategy is a mainstay in the US market where drug prices border on exorbitant, but even there, the benefit has seen a steady decline as pharmacy benefit managers or PBM’s seek to increase their margins to appease shareholders. One of the biggest issues that Canadian companies have had with preferred pharmacy networks is getting their employees to comply with the limited pharmacy options. Recently Home Depot was forced to claw back their forced attempt to get their employees to fill their prescriptions using the mail-order service provided by express scripts. After significant backlash from their employees, the company backtracked to allow employees to fill their prescription at any pharmacy but limiting the amount of the dispensing fee to around eight dollars similar to what Express Scripts was offering. Home Depot is not alone in this problem. In many companies that we talk to over 80% of employees were filling their prescription out of network. The biggest reason cited was pure convenience along with other factors like loyalty rewards and relationships with their current pharmacists. Even when talking to a senior executive that a major pharmaceutical manufacturer who offered their employees 100% coverage for medications produced by the company, a significant amount of the employees still filled their prescriptions using similar medications produced by other companies just because that’s what their pharmacist-provided them.
The problem is one rooted in human nature. The typical employee will not go out of their way to improve the bottom line for the company they work for if it doesn’t directly negatively affect them. And as we saw with the backlash from Home Depot employees, the solution is not to force the will of the company onto the employees. So what is the solution? We at PopRx believe the solution is to offer your employees a better experience, not just a cheaper one.
When we started working with on our pilot project with an employer with over 600 employees in multiple provinces we went out and talked to the employees to ask them why they weren’t using the pharmacies that the company had in the preferred network. The majority of the responses we got back were that the partner pharmacies were inconvenient to go to, and mail order was complicated for changing medications and inconvenient for one time prescriptions. “Why would I drive 30 minutes across town if there is a huge pharmacy five minutes from my house?”-Employee The second most common theme that we saw was that the employees didn’t think about or see a difference. Regardless of where they went, they will get 100% coverage so why not do what was most convenient and nondisruptive to what they were already doing. Because nobody likes change. With that in mind, we tried to design a solution to help make that transition easier.
- Convenience All employees had to do was download the application on their phone sign-up, enter the referral code given by the employer, and give us their current pharmacy. If their current pharmacy is on the network, nothing changes within a few minutes they will see all of their medication listed within the application ready for one click refills and payment with all of their benefit coverage integrated. If their pharmacy is not currently in the network, the employee is prompted to transfer their medications to any network pharmacy with a single, click of a button. For the employee if the change but a change for the better. They can track refill and have their medication delivered the same day at no additional cost. No need to go to the pharmacy. If they need a couple of extra items like cough syrup or Tylenol, that can be easily added to the order. Offering the employees a better service with more convenience gives them a feeling that the employer is not restricting their benefits but providing them a premium service.
- Premium Benefits along with the ultimate convenience the patient is also offered premium concierge service with the application. They have access to a personal pharmacist who can answer questions and concerns to phone or text directly through the app. They have access to directly book services like flu shots, med check consults, and smoking cessation programs within the application.
- Employee health and engagement pharmacy benefits are about keeping employees healthy,happy and productive. The PopRx adherence reward program, integrated with Perk points helps employers reward their employees for staying healthy and adhering to their medication. For completing certain adherence goals and tasks, employees are rewarded with points redeemable for gift cards at stores like Best Buy, Tim Horton’s, and Starbucks. This not only keeps the employees engaged in their health, decreasing costs associated with chronic disease, but help foster a company culture where the employer is genuinely engaging and investing in the well-being of their employees.
All this and the best thing of all is that PopRx still saves your company money. The application is free, including executive dashboards showing anonymized data of what the company is spending on pharmacy benefits. It allows them to see if adherence programs are working, and general engagement of their employees. Additionally, PopRx can suggest and work with the company on how to further decrease costs. Where available we try to substitute for generic medications, as well as partnering with major drugs in cards like Innovicares integrated into the application to provide additional discounts on brand medications. If your current insurer has a preferred pharmacy network, we can integrate into those pharmacies. If your insured does not have a preferred pharmacy network, then we can use PopRx’s network of hundreds of pharmacies across Canada.
With the help of mobile technology employers can reign in pharmacy benefit costs while at the same time providing a superior premium experience to their employees. Contact PopRx today to see how we can make this happen for your company. Info@PopRx.ca https://groups.poprx.ca/