Doctors aren’t using tools to keep drug costs down

Patients are worried about the rising cost of prescription drugs, and the high rate of cost growth has led lawmakers and the Trump administration to review steps to reduce runaway price growth. However, there are some ways for doctors to help patients avoid sticker shock on their prescriptions––and not many are using these tools, according to a report from NPR.

Some health systems and care organizations may be utilizing pricing tools, which can allow patients to know the cost of their prescriptions under their insurance plans while they’re still at the doctor’s office. A physician can plug the medicine into the tool and review the cost in real time.

This tool also allows doctors to find a cheaper alternative if patients can’t afford one version, as well as start any necessary authorization process for the drug, according to NPR. Using this tool can also reduce the trend of patients abandoning prescriptions at the pharmacy when they learn the cost. Despite these advantages, the adoption of the tool is slow. For example, Humana is one such healthcare company to have the tool available, though only 10% of its network of doctors are using it.

That may be because the tools have some challenges and limitations, such as not enough useful information for all patients, with a lack of participation from some pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Doctors also might be hesitant to get involved in discussions about drug prices. Still, the adoption of the tools continues to grow and more cooperation across the industry is likely, the report concluded.

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