Magazine article Drug Topics

Motorola Stepping Up Therapeutic Interchange

Magazine article Drug Topics

Motorola Stepping Up Therapeutic Interchange

Article excerpt

Motorola, a PCS Health Systems customer since 1994, is updating its employees' customdesigned Health Advantage Plan to include a new focus on improving cost efficacy in prescriptions.

Unveiling Motorola's updated plan last month, PCS, the nation's largest pharmacy benefit manager, said a key component will be the voluntary participation of members in PCS' Performance Rx therapeutic interchange program. Using an on-line system, the interchange program compares the prescribed medication to a list of preferred drugs, including some generic alternatives. According to PCS spokesman Blair Jackson, generics are the "first-line, preferred drug" in only a few categories and using Performance Rx does not automatically result in generic substitution. When the program identifies a potential change, it alerts the pharmacist, who then discusses the alternative with the patient and prescribing physician. If both agree, the substitution is made.

Jackson said that pharmacists have been responding favorably to the interchange program since it began in January 1996. "Almost all of our network pharmacies have signed up to participate. I think that's pretty positive feedback-again, it's a voluntary program," he said.

An obvious incentive to participate in the interchange is the reimbursement that PCS provides. "[Pharmacists] are paid based on the time they spend, not whether the interchange was successful. It's a step process," said Jackson. The program uses a sliding scale for reimbursement. A pharmacist who discusses the interchange option with a patient receives some compensation for time spent, even if the patient refuses the interchange. If the patient agrees but the prescribing physician refuses to allow the substitution, the R.Ph. still gets reimbursed for trying, although the amount received in either situation is less than for a successful interchange.

Reimbursement for interchange attempts and successes is included in bimonthly checks PCS sends to pharmacies for general reimbursement.

Marc Yanow, R.Ph., owner and pharmacy manager of Moon Lake Pharmacy in Hoffman Estates, Ill., has been a participant in the interchange program since its start last year. With Motorola's corporate headquarters in neighboring Schaumburg, Yanow said Motorola employees represent a large portion of his customers. Now that Motorola has signed on with the interchange program, his pharmacy can expect to see a big increase in its use. …

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