The first step in the rollout is the new Prescription Schedule, which will roll out across all of CVS’s 9,700 locations today. The Schedule is created automatically by a system created by CVS, and puts all the information about a patient’s medications in one place. The instruction sheet and labeling medications are marked with graphics that show the time of day a patient should take them. This information and labeling were designed for patients with complex medication schedules, but are available for free to any CVS patient.
Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President of Pharmacy Services at CVS Pharmacy, said that the computer system devlopjed by CVS that creates the Prescription Schedule is based on the best information available. It takes in a prescriber’s script and, using a natural language processor, reads the script and makes the schedule based on it with easier-to-understand instructions, according to Hourican. The prescriber doesn’t have to change his or her process, it is all done within CVS’s system when the script is sent over.
The system looks at all of a patient’s medications and then automatically sorts the information into the best times of day to take each one. It also creates a schedule that involves taking the fewest number of meds in a day, with the idea of making it easier for patients to keep track. The Prescription Schedule will be automatically given to patients taking five or more medications, and will be available in both English and Spanish.
Hourican said that CVS pharmacists have been trained on the new system, and have been largely supportive of the effort. “This is the type of work our pharmacists love to do,” he said, “They love the fact that they’re getting a more holistic conversation” about a patient’s medications. He said that the Prescription Schedule helped reinforce the reason a pharmacist went to pharmacy school—to help patients. Pharmacists will give counseling at minimum twice per year automatically, but patients may request additional counseling.
As for the program’s results, Hourican said that he is encouraged by initial data from the pilot. Millions of Americans are taking
their medications at suboptimal times, he said, but this program could help them avoid that problem. While CVS is still gathering and analyzing data, Hourican said he was “very confident this program will improve patient adherence.”