UCHealth launches prescription pricing tool that could save patients’ pocketbooks

New tool is the first of its kind to help doctors prescribe cost-effective medications for patients.
May 14, 2019
Portrait of UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.
UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is launching a new tool to help physicians check prices for patient medications.  Photo by UCHealth.

 The only independent real-time benefit and cost transparency solution in the country is now being launched across UCHealth’s hospitals and clinics. SwiftRxÒ Direct helps physicians quickly and easily find affordable alternatives to more costly medications specific to a patient’s health needs and insurance benefits.

“Having prescription pricing information at physicians’ fingertips when we’re meeting with a patient is a huge step forward. This helps avoid the surprise a patient might have when they get to the pharmacy only to find out the medication prescribed is unreasonably expensive,” said UCHealth Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Richard Zane, who is also the professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “This tool helps providers know the costs ahead of time and discuss them with patients.”

Dr. CT Lin, an internal medicine physician with UCHealth and the system’s chief medical information officer, offers a real-life example where this tool enabled him to change a prescription from tablets to capsules, reducing the co-pay estimate for the patient from $250 to $50.

“This took two seconds and saved the patient, the pharmacy and our clinic a couple of phone calls and the hassle of dealing with this substitution over the following several days, in addition to saving the patient $200,” said Lin. “The ability to view real-time pharmacy benefits is a real patient and physician satisfier. Instead of the usual ‘guess-again’ game, where we prescribe a medicine and hope that the co-pay is affordable at the pharmacy, now we can see an accurate cost-estimate at the time of prescribing, and even see suggested alternatives.”

UCHealth is the first health care system in the country to go live with this tool within its electronic medical record, Epic, making the RxRevu’s SwiftRxÒ Direct solution available to thousands of providers. UCHealth’s CARE Innovation Center has been a close partner with RxRevu, developing and testing the technology together and seamlessly integrating it into the electronic medical record system.

“Working with innovative tech partners to develop and deploy prescriptive analytics such as SwiftRxÒ Direct at clinics across the system is one of many ways UCHealth is innovating and disrupting the way healthcare is delivered, finding time-saving efficiencies for providers and identifying cost savings for patients,” said Zane.

“Our mission is to improve patient outcomes through better prescribing. RxRevu’s content will help ensure the right medications are prescribed at prices patients can afford. The ultimate goal is to ensure consistent and cost-effective prescribing across the UCHealth clinical footprint so that patients are not forced to abandon drug therapies due to high cost,” said Carm Huntress, co-founder and CEO of RxRevu. “Partnering with UCHealth to serve its providers and patients is a great opportunity to learn and grow with a health system committed to helping patients lower medication costs while improving outcomes, safety and satisfaction.”

The technology can show a physician a number of different medications that all work equally well and can point out which will be least expensive or that will be covered by the patient’s insurance plan. This is currently available in 19 clinics, and the health system plans to expand in the coming months.