VHAN Care Management and Pharmacy Teams Partner to Help Patients Access Needed Medications

As the cost of prescription drugs continues to rise, patients’ refusal or inability to pay for costly medications contributes to an estimated 125,000 deaths every year.

The Journal of Clinical Oncology recently assessed patients’ access to 38 different oral cancer drugs. The study found that 13% of cancer patients did not buy approved chemotherapy drugs if they had a co-payment of $10 a month, while 67% did not when they had to pay $2,000 or more. Another study cited cost as the reason that 25% of patients with diabetes underuse their insulin. Research shows how a patient’s inability to purchase costly-but-essential drugs can increase overall health care costs over time.

Digging Deeper for Answers
In addition to providing the highest level of care, VHAN’s Care Navigators are also skilled listeners who find solutions for a patient’s immediate needs as well as root causes of illness. Often, those solutions begin with a closer look at a patient’s medications. In a recent conversation with a 68-year-old female patient being treated for an atrial fibrillation and an ongoing thyroid issue, VHAN RN Care Navigator Shanika Robinson learned that the patient had been struggling to afford her essential heart medication.

After Robinson met with VHAN’s pharmacy team, they discovered that the patient’s primary care provider had prescribed her essential heart medication as “DAW-1,” or dispense brand name only. Working with her provider, the VHAN pharmacy team was able to switch the patient’s medication to an equally effective and far less expensive generic version.

Seeking Whole Person Health
In their ongoing conversations, Robinson realized the patient was also battling depression but had been hesitant to talk about it or seek therapy. After Robinson checked in periodically and built trust over several months, the patient agreed to speak with a social worker and seek additional help. With her medications properly adjusted and more affordable, the patient continued to meet with the social worker to find ways to earn extra money.

“This patient really has faith in our program,” Robinson says. “She’s been getting out of the house and having meals with her friends, and she is 110% better than when we first met in September—an absolute success story.” 

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