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Asthma treatment can be significantly reduced through appropriate educational interventions according to a study recently published in Disease Management and Health Outcomes. The population-based study, titled "Economic Impact of an Asthma Education Program on Medical Care Utilization," was conducted by Rutgers University College of Pharmacy in conjunction with National Prescription Administrators (NPA), a New Jersey-based prescription benefit management (PBM) company. The goal of the study was to determine the economic impact of an asthma education program from the perspective of a third-party payer.
Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disorder affecting 14 to 15 million Americans.
All of the 5,527 patients involved in the study were members of a union health and welfare fund located in the northeastern part of the United States. NPA, the nation's largest truly independent prescription benefit manager, provides Rx benefit services to more than 7.5 million plan members and their families through over 1,000 major corporations, union groups, insurance companies, government organizations and managed care organizations.
The asthma education program encompassed: 1) therapy management interventions with physicians to ensure that patients were using the most appropriate asthma medications; 2) communication with physicians to improve medication compliance according to the guidelines established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); 3) distribution of asthma educational materials to patients; and 4) compliance intervention through direct communication with physicians and, if necessary, patients.
The results of the Rutgers/NPA study showed that total asthma treatment costs decreased from $499.00 per patient to $415.00, a reduction of 17 percent in direct costs of therapy. Depending on the size of a sponsoring organization's card member population, this cost reduction can mean significant savings to a benefit plan. The individual components of the cost savings, expressed as average costs per patient in the intervention group, were as follows:
NPA Senior VP Robert M. Voytovich, PharmD, says that increased patient and physician awareness helps patients manage their asthma and improves patient outcomes. "This is particularly good news from the perspective of the patient as well as the employer in terms of reduced absenteeism, improved quality of life, and reduced medical and pharmacy costs. We are gratified with the positive outcomes demonstrated by this study, and the established role NPA can fulfill in managing overall costs for our clients." Voytovich further emphasizes the importance in collaborating with a prestigious academic institution like Rutgers to conduct the study.
A follow-up study will be released in mid2001 using the same data, but with a focus on the asthma prescription therapies that were employed. The initial study has already enabled NPA's clients to clear the air in managing the significant overall costs of asthma. Asthma affects the lives of 15 million Americans and their families. Hopefully, the results will help us all breathe more easily.
Call NPA at 800-526-7813 or visit us at www.npanet.com.
NPA and Rutgers University Collaborate to Reduce Asthma Costs. Business and Health 2001;6.