Priority Health invests nearly $3 million in programs to help Michiganders avoid medication errors

(Grand Rapids, Mich. – April 11, 2016) Each year, more than 200,000 people die from preventable medical errors, according to a U.S. News & World Report article published in 2015. To combat this statistic, Priority Health is investing in the future of health care by devoting nearly $3 million to expand its pharmacy management programs throughout Michigan. With this move, Priority Health has become the first health plan in the state to expand the program to both its Medicare and employer-sponsored health plans.

Almost $2 million is being used to expand the Priority Health Medication Therapy Management program offered in local pharmacies. The Medication Therapy Management program supports local pharmacists with helping patients understand their prescription drugs while controlling out-of-pocket costs. Together with the patient and their physician, pharmacists evaluate the patient’s prescription drug use and identify potentially dangerous and costly medication errors.

An additional $1 million will be invested into expanding the Medication Therapy Management program within physician practices across the state. With this support, in-house pharmacists will assist patients while they are visiting their doctors' office. The expansion of Medication Therapy Management services is part of the new Acceleration Program Priority Health is launching in physician practices across Michigan.

"Priority Health is in a unique position to be able to align resources and the expertise within the pharmacy community to ensure our members are getting optimal care," said Joan Budden, President and CEO of Priority Health. "This program is another example of Priority Health's continuous effort to look for new ways to make monumental and measurable changes to the way health care is delivered for our members."

Priority Health initially launched the Medication Therapy Management pilot program with its Medicare members and the company saw significant results. In the first year of the pilot program, Medication Therapy Management created a total cost of care savings of $60 per member/per month over a 12 month period and $66 per member/per month over 24 months.

On average, two drug-related issues were resolved for each patient engaged in the program, and for every $1 Priority Health invested, $4 was saved in medical costs.

Medication-related mismanagement or misuse is an expensive public health problem in the United States, leading to 1.5 million preventable accidents annually. The Michigan Pharmacists Association estimates the state spends $12 billion per year on medication-related problems that could otherwise be avoided, including administering the wrong drug, the wrong dosage or an inaccurate combination that could lead to death.

The Medication Therapy Management program utilizes community pharmacists to make outreach calls to qualified Priority Health members, offering the opportunity to meet one-on-one for a 30-to-45-minute complete medication review. During the review, the pharmacist evaluates the member's prescriptions, simplifies their medication routines and identifies and resolves any drug-related concerns. The pharmacist then works closely with the patient's primary care physician to coordinate all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

Priority Health is offering Medication Therapy Management programs in pharmacies across the United States, including Meijer, Walgreens, Spartan Stores, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and several local pharmacies. Priority Health members are also able to participate in this program through pharmacists in their primary care office. Participation in the program is optional. It is open to all members with emphasis on those that take four or more medications for chronic conditions and have an employer-sponsored or privately purchased health insurance plan.

Members interested in learning more about Medication Therapy Management services can call Priority Health at 800.942.0954.

About Priority Health:

Priority Health is an award-winning, Michigan-based non-profit health plan nationally recognized for improving the health and lives of the people it serves. It continues to lead the industry in engaging members in their health, delivering effective health and disease management programs and working with physicians to improve health care outcomes and performance. Priority Health is one of only 20 health plans nationwide offering wellness programs accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, an organization which also rated it among the best health plans in the nation. The State of Michigan named the Priority Health HMO the benchmark plan for all individual and group HMO plans to model.

Priority Health offers a broad portfolio of health benefit options for employer groups and individuals, including Medicare and Medicaid plans. Its network of health care providers features 95 percent of practicing physicians available in Michigan and more than 900,000 health care providers nationwide.