IMS Study Identifies Six Critical Levers to Improve Medicine Use and Avoid $500 Billion in Unnecessary Annual Healthcare Spending

IMS Study Identifies Six Critical Levers to Improve Medicine Use and Avoid $500 Billion in Unnecessary Annual Healthcare Spending


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The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics has identified six levers that can be applied to improve medicine use worldwide and empower public and private stakeholders to realize nearly a half-trillion dollar avoidable cost opportunity. This represents eight percent of total annual global health expenditures. The levers are detailed in a study, released by the IMS Institute during a global summit for Ministers of Health held earlier this month in Amsterdam.

The study defines responsible use of medicines as the alignment of all elements of a healthcare system – including professionals and patients – in ensuring that individuals receive the right medicines at the right time, use them appropriately, and benefit from them. Calling responsible medicine use an “urgent imperative” for the global health system, the IMS Institute study found that medicine policy is often isolated from other healthcare initiatives in the intensifying efforts to contain costs. Such an approach does not consider the significant impact that improved medicine use can have on overall health system spending.

The following levers can be applied by health system leaders to improve the use of medicines:

Improvements in patient adherence make up more than half – $269 billion – of the $500 billion annual opportunity in avoidable healthcare costs. The study also focuses on two key factors critical to driving improvement across the six levers: multi-stakeholder engagement, and the power of information. Prescribers, dispensers, the pharmaceutical industry and patients can all play a role in aligning the health system to drive improvement. In addition, sufficient information exists within and across countries to set priorities, monitor progress and drive behavior change.

“As our study makes clear, medicines – and the policies and practices that govern their use – are an essential and under-appreciated piece of the global healthcare puzzle,” said Murray Aitken, executive director, IMS Institute. “Harnessing available information to set priorities, monitor progress and support behavior change among healthcare stakeholders – including policymakers, payers, clinicians, nurses, pharmacists and patients – is a vital first step. By framing the challenges and possible solutions, we want to trigger the realization that improvements are possible and that these levers can yield economic benefits as well as health improvements.”

Added Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine and a participant in the Amsterdam summit: “It’s very important for all stakeholders concerned with this problem to be able to tackle particular parts without losing sight of the whole – and to not be discouraged by the complexity. They should target particular solutions that are appropriate for their respective countries and settings, and work on those to drive improvements and long-term success.”

A webinar presenting details of the IMS Institute report will be held on Tuesday, October 30, at 12:00 pm EDT/16:00 GMT/17:00 CET. To access the webinar, click . The full report and a replay of the webinar will be available at . The study was produced independently as a public service, without industry or government funding.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics provides key policy setters and decision makers in the global health sector with unique and transformational insights into healthcare dynamics derived from granular analysis of information. It is a research-driven entity with a worldwide reach that collaborates with external healthcare experts from across academia and the public and private sectors to objectively apply IMS’s proprietary global information and analytical assets. More information about the IMS Institute can be found at . For information about the global study, visit .

IMS Health is a leading provider of information, services and technology for the healthcare industry around the world. The company draws on its global technology infrastructure and unique combination of in-depth, sophisticated analytics, on-shore and off-shore commercial services, and software platforms to help clients better understand the performance and dynamics of healthcare systems. With a presence in 100+ countries and more than 55 years of industry experience, IMS serves leading decision makers in healthcare, including pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, providers, payers, government agencies, policymakers, researchers and the financial community. Additional information is available at .