• by: |
  • 02/24/2014

Humana is working with CoverMyMeds, a health IT company, to roll out an electronic prior authorization model that enables physicians to simplify prescription prior authorization requests so patients can get quicker access to their medications.

According to an article in Medical Practice Insider, Prior authorization (PA) is a complex process that is often daunting and monotonous for medical practice managers. It is also costly in terms of economics and human life, in particular when PA requirements lead to patient medication needs “falling through the cracks,” as some patients abandon their prescriptions due to the confusion and delay of the approval process.

The original goal of PA was to save money, requiring physicians to justify to health plans the need for medications, diagnostic tests and procedures, but it has led to pharmacists having to spend an average of five hours per week handling PA requests. This is non-reimbursable time that is better served on direct patient care.

A nationwide physician survey indicates that more than 69 percent of physicians typically wait several days to receive a PA from an insurer for a prescribed drug, while 10 percent wait more than a week. While more than 52 percent of office-based prescribers utilize electronic prescribing methods, most of them continue to use paper-based methods for obtaining PA of medications from health plans, causing unnecessary delays for patients.

Under the agreement with CoverMyMeds, physicians submit drug prior authorizations directly to the insurer through an online portal. The requests begin processing immediately, and providers receive a notification of the status of the member’s prior authorization, sometimes while the patient is still at the provider’s office, Humana said in a news release.

In a pilot of the model, Humana found that one quarter of prior authorizations placed received a response electronically within minutes of submission. Physicians who used it overwhelmingly said the website was user friendly, and many found it helpful to receive an online status of their prior authorization determination.

“Depending on the prescription, some medications require prior authorization before coverage, which, as of now, is a time-consuming process for all parties,” said Scott Greenwell, chief pharmacy officer of Humana Pharmacy Solutions, in the release, adding that prescriptions can now be approved and ready in real-time.

Well done, Humana!

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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