This authors conducted a survey (847 ACOs) to generate preliminary data and then interviews of a sample of survey respondents (49 respondents) to gather perceptions of ACO leadership. The survey utilized the medication practices inventory (MPI) as a framework for evaluating medication management practices. The MPI is composed of 38 capabilities across 6 functional domains related to optimizing medication use. ACOs to rate their preparation to manage the quality and cost of medications using a scale from 1 to 100.
ACOs completed self-assessments that included rating each component of the MPI on a scale of 1 to 10. Fisher’s exact tests, 2-proportions tests, t-tests, and logistic regression were used to test for associations between ACO scores on the MPI and performance on financial and quality metrics, and on ACO descriptive characteristics.
Of the 847 ACOs that were contacted, 49 provided usable survey data. These ACOs rated their own system’s ability to manage the quality and costs of optimizing medication use, providing a 64% and 31% affirmative response, respectively. Three ACOs achieved an overall MPI score of 8or higher, 45 scored between 4 and 7.9, and 1 scored between 0 and 3.9. Using the 3 score groups, the study did not identify a relationship between MPI scores and achievement on financial or quality benchmarks, ACO provider type, member volume, date of ACO creation, or the presence of a pharmacist in a leadership position. Barriers to optimizing medication use relate to reimbursement for pharmacist integration, lack of health information technology interoperability, lack of data, feasibility issues, and physician buy-in.
Compared with 2012 data, data on ACOs that participated in this study show that they continue to build effective strategies to optimize medication use. These ACOs struggle with both notification related to prescription use and measurement of the influence optimized medication use has on costs and quality outcomes. Compared with the earlier study, these data find that more ACOs are involving pharmacists directly in care, expanding the use of generics, electronically transmitting prescriptions, identifying gaps in care and potential adverse events, and educating patients on therapeutic alternatives. ACO-level policies that facilitate practices to optimize medication use are needed. Integrating pharmacists into care, giving both pharmacists and physicians access to clinical data, obtaining physician buy-in, and measuring the impact of practices to optimize medication use may improve these practices.