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CVS Caremark Behavioral Change Research Partnership Presents Ongoing Research at Center for Disease Control Symposium
Date:8/18/2010

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) today said that preliminary findings from ongoing research about how consumers make health care choices shows that if a consumer is proactively presented with a decision to select automatic versus manual refills before they fill a prescription, they are twice as likely to choose the automatic option than those who are asked after receiving the prescription.

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Those findings were presented today at a communications symposium sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, by Punam Anand Keller, a faculty member at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, and Bari A. Harlam, senior vice president, CVS Caremark. Keller is a member of CVS Caremark's Behavior Change Research Partnership (BCRP).

Keller said the new research by CVS Caremark seeks to address the fact that many health care decisions are unnecessarily complicated by the lack of clear and plain language. In addition, she said, choices for programs like automatic refill of prescriptions, or generic alternatives can be overlooked because those options are not readily transparent to the consumer.  

"Through this research we are testing options presented through four different communications channels to see how consumers react to different scenarios," said Keller. "One of our preliminary findings looking at consumers on the Web shows that if we reach out and present a decision to choose automatic refill in advance of renewing a prescription, they sign up at twice the rate of those who were passively presented an opt-in choice after receiving a prescription."

The BCRP is calling the proactive test "Active Choice." CVS Caremark is testing Active Choice in four communication channels: through interactive Web sign-ins; during in-bound customer calls to care centers; through automated outbound telephone calls; and through direct mail. Results for how consumers react in all four channels are not complete. However, Keller said the test using Web-based tools includes an automatic pop-up box that poses the question in clear language before a prescription is filled. The volume of automatic refill requests through that scenario were double the rates the company previously saw.

CVS Caremark launched the BCRP last March to study ways behavioral economics might impact health care decisions, and to better understand why some patients stop taking chronic illness maintenance medications prescribed by their doctors. Besides Keller, other leading behavioral economists participating on the BCRP are George Loewenstein from Carnegie Mellon University and Kevin Volpp from the University of Pennsylvania's Medical School and The Wharton School of Business.

The ongoing work is focusing on how different communications can encourage consumers to stay on their medications and offering automatic refills – the focus of the Active Choice review -- is one way to encourage adherence. Keller said the BCRP work on the Active Choice option is continuing and like other CVS-sponsored studies, the BCRP plans to share the findings publicly in the interest of encouraging better understanding of adherence issues throughout the industry.

"We are looking at this issue from all angles because it is well known that medication non-adherence is costing the health care system billions of dollars every year because people who stop taking medications may face unnecessary hospital admissions and other health care expenditures," said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "Our plan is to develop innovative programs that encourage adherence because good pharmacy care is among the most cost-effective health care options."

Past industry studies show one-quarter of people receiving prescriptions never fill their first prescriptions, and patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary artery disease adhere to their ongoing medication regimen about half of the time. Non-adherence to essential medications is a frequent cause of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness, with costs to the U.S. health care system estimated at about $300 billion annually.

About CVS CaremarkCVS Caremark is the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States. Through our integrated offerings across the entire spectrum of pharmacy care, we are uniquely positioned to provide greater access, to engage plan members in behaviors that improve their health and to lower overall health care costs for health plans, plan sponsors and their members. CVS Caremark is a market leader in mail order pharmacy, retail pharmacy, specialty pharmacy, and retail clinics, and is a leading provider of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. As one of the country's largest pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), we provide access to a network of more than 64,000 pharmacies, including approximately 7,100 CVS/pharmacy® stores that provide unparalleled service and capabilities. Our clinical expertise includes one of the industry's most comprehensive disease management programs. General information about CVS Caremark is available through the Company's Web site at http://info.cvscaremark.com.Media Contact:Jon SandbergCVS Caremark401-770 4914jlsandberg@cvs.com
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