Survey: ACOs want help from pharma to reduce costs

Accountable care organizations need more help from pharmaceutical companies to achieve high-quality, lower-cost care, concluded a survey from Oliver Wyman.

ACO physicians and senior executives want pharmaceutical companies to more actively contribute to quality and cost-reduction goals, according to the survey announcement. Of the 208 responding physicians, 61 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed that branded drug therapies can reduce the overall cost of patient care when used appropriately

"Drugs can cost more, but they have to prove real value to the patient in order for payers to agree to pay more," the former CEO of a Medicare Advantage ACO said in an accompanying interview with Oliver Wyman. "You can't just charge money for a new therapy unless the economics work."

Although physicians encouraged pharma to increase its involvement in ACOs and value-based delivery models, the survey showed physicians still question whether pharma companies can provide the data necessary to demonstrate drug cost savings.

Meanwhile, the Walgreens drugstore chain is joining hospital systems and health insurers as a major ACO player, The Miami Herald reported.

In fact, Walgreens is the first pharmacy to join the ACO movement, leading three ACOs in partnership with physician groups. Advocare Walgreens Well Network in New Jersey, Diagnostic Clinic Walgreens Well Network in Florida and Scott & White Walgreens Well Network in Texas were among the 106 new ACOs unveiled by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in January.

The pharmacy chain also expanded further into primary care earlier this month with its move to diagnose, treat and manage chronic care conditions at its Take Care Clinics.

Chronic condition management from Walgreens and other pharmacy chains could lead to better drug adherence, which could cut $300 billion a year in wasteful spending, as well as increase healthcare access for disadvantaged populations, according to Think Progress, a blog from the nonpartisan think tank The Center for American Progress Action Fund.

For more:
- read the survey announcement
- read the Miami Herald article
- here's the Think Progress blog post