Study on prescriptions suggests how doctors, patients, real-time price tools, and pharmacists can work together.
Older patients are skipping their prescription medications due to high prices – and they want to talk to their physicians about those costs.
But you risk their wrath if pricing information is not accurate.
The findings were part of a new study, “Cost-Related Medication Nonadherence and Desire for Medication Cost Information Among Adults Aged 65 Years and Older in the US in 2022,” published in JAMA Network Open.
A 2022 survey of 2,005 adults aged 65 and older found 20.2% reported cost-related medication nonadherence. Some used “extreme forms of cost-coping,” with 8.5% skipping basic needs and 4.8% going into debt to afford their prescription drugs.
“Although prescription drug affordability is a challenge, there are important opportunities for clinical intervention to help patients avoid cost-related nonadherence,” the study said.
Popular forms of cost-related nonadherence include:
Many respondents reported more than one form of nonadherence, the study said.
How do patients cope with high prices?
What can physicians do to help their patients?
Real-time benefit tools have been required for Medicare Part D since 2021 and are meant to be specific to patients, pharmacies, and times.
But their accuracy is unclear. Implementing them “is challenged by potentially incomplete data,” especially due to interoperability – or lack of it – between prescription drug plan data from insurers and electronic health records, the study said.
Then, if a patient waits to fill a prescription or goes to a different pharmacy, the drug price may be different, the study said.
That can hurt the doctor-patient relationship – 41.5% of respondents said they would be “extremely upset” if there was a huge difference between real-time benefit tool estimates and the actual pharmacy prices. That price gap could also make patients less likely to fill their prescriptions, the study said.
The researchers recommended three steps meet patient needs while acknowledging potentially inaccurate information.