Do Risk Reduction Programs Work?

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For self-insured employers, heart disease and diabetes are considered significant hindrances in the effort to improve employee health while reducing overall healthcare costs. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women and about 9.4% of Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. In order to control cost and help employees, employers typically look to disease state management programs. While many of these programs seem beneficial, the durability and long-term effects have limited evaluation.

What is a disease management program?

Disease management programs (DMPs) are structured treatment plans that aim to help people better manage their chronic disease and to maintain and improve quality of life. DMPs are also run with the general goal of improving medical treatment in the long term. Disease management programs also aim to improve cooperation between the various specialists and institutions that provide care for a patient, such as family and specialist doctors, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.1

What are the long-term outcomes of a DMP?2

A recent study published in the NCBI had the main objective of assessing the 5-year health, economic, and quality-of-life patient outcomes of an employer-sponsored disease state management program. The program included one-on-one appointments with a pharmacist that included medication therapy management, implementation and adherence to 7 personalized lifestyle medicine programs (ie, physical activity, healthy eating, stress management, restorative sleep, moderate alcohol consumption, tobacco abstinence/cessation, and weight control), and chronic disease care coordination practices.

The results of the study identified:

  • Decreased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels: 96.71 mg/dL vs 84.83 mg/dL, respectively
  • Increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels: 39.32 mg/dL vs 46.12 mg/dL
  • Decreased systolic blood pressure: 132.04 mm Hg vs 123.63 mm Hg
  • Average exercise time increased: 50 minutes weekly vs 156.04 minutes weekly
  • The combined healthcare and productivity return on investment for the program at 5 years was $9.64 for every $1 invested.

What is the difference between a Disease Management program and the Chronic Condition Management Program offered by Tria Health?

Tria Health started as a disease management program and has its foundation there, but many disease management programs are focused one particular disease state versus the program offered by Tria Health which is patient-centered. Most patients have more than one chronic condition, so taking a ‘patient-centered’ approach improves overall care and costs.

Interested in improving your employee’s health?

Tria Health offers Chronic Condition Management through our Pharmacy Advocate Program. Clinical Pharmacists provide one-on-one telephonic counseling for members and are their personal advocate to help them navigate through the health care system. Through reviewing a member’s medications and lifestyle, including their sleep habits, Tria Pharmacists can make recommendations that will help control their chronic conditions and help them feel better!

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279412/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6207306/

Reduce Adverse Drug Reactions

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Are you currently taking a prescription medication? Per the government’s National Health Survey, about 20 percent of adults are taking three or more drugs. While medications can turn once fatal diseases into manageable, chronic conditions, those taking five or more medications were nearly twice as likely to seek medical care than those taking one or two meds.1 It’s important to understand what medications you’re taking, and the steps you need to follow to reduce your risk of adverse drug reactions.

How do Adverse Drug Reactions Happen?1

There are three primary causes of dangerous prescription drug use:

  1. Hyper-specialized doctors: Many patients with chronic conditions have multiple physicians. While this can benefit the patient by providing them with specialized resources, the lack of communication between health care providers can sometimes lead to the prescribing of drugs that interact negatively.
  2. Prescription cascades: The risk of side effects comes with every medication. Prescription cascades occur when new medications are prescribed in an effort to treat the sides effects of other medications.
  3. Poor research: Unfortunately for older adults, drug trials are often focused on young adults. This can lead to a lack of information regarding the negative effects of individual drugs or interactions among multiple drugs.

Simple Steps to Avoid Adverse Drug Reactions

  • Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about any new medications. Make sure they know about any vitamins and supplements you are currently taking.
  • Follow all the dosing instructions listed on each of your medications.
  • Keep an updated medication list on hand for any of your medical appointments.
  • You can also use AARP’s online drug interaction checker.

Tria Health can help

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible adverse drug reactions or savings opportunities!

Source:

  1. https://lowninstitute.org/medication-overload-how-the-drive-to-prescribe-is-harming-older-americans/

World Asthma Day

World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. World Asthma Day is held on the first Tuesday in May, in collaboration with health care groups and asthma educators throughout the world. Asthma impacts around 8.3% of Americans, which is close to 26.5 million people.1 This Tuesday, take the time to learn more about Asthma and how you can help raise awareness!

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.2

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Asthma?

While these symptoms are very common for individuals with asthma, the best way to know for sure is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. They’re be able to perform a physical exam and possibly a lung function test.

Common signs and symptoms of asthma include:

  • Coughing: Coughing from asthma often is worse at night or early in the morning, making it hard to sleep.
  • Wheezing: Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound that occurs when you breathe.
  • Chest tightness: This may feel like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest.
  • Shortness of breath: Some people who have asthma say they can’t catch their breath, or they feel out of breath. You may feel like you can’t get air out of your lungs.

How can you participate in World Asthma Day?

  • Organize debates about local issues affecting asthma control—e.g., pollution, smoking, access to asthma care & medication
  • Organize a hike for people with asthma and their friends, led by a health care provider who can educate the group about    managing asthma in an outdoor environment.
  • Arrange school visits on or prior to World Asthma Day—educate children about asthma and offer on-the-spot peak flow meter    testing. These activities could be combined with plays, concerts, or poetry competitions highlighting the concept of asthma control.

Find more ideas here.

Tria Health and Asthma

Many patients decide to take medications in order to effectively manage their asthma. If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for asthma, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/asthma
  2. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/asthma

Mental Health and Chronic Condition Management

Sad man sitting in a corner
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According to a recent study published in Psychological Medicine, mental health disorders affect 44 million American adults. This includes a variety of conditions, including depression and anxiety. It is critical for organizations to provide support for mental health, not only for the overall well-being of their employees but also to help manage their overall health care cost.

Employers Should Invest in Mental Health Because They Bear 50% of the Cost

Including mental health services in a comprehensive benefits package is a smart decision for all employers. By investing early, employers can attract new talent and offset some additional costs that are associated with unmanaged mental health. Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home and social activities.1 A 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, estimates depression costs the U.S. economy $210 billion annually; employers bear 50% of that cost.

Patients with Chronic Conditions and Depression are 2x Less Adherent

Chronic conditions can be a lot to manage at an individual level. It’s not surprising that a percentage of those who are diagnosed with a chronic condition also experience some form of depression or anxiety. Studies show that people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people without diabetes.2 This connection is significant when it comes to adherence.  Results from 47 independent samples showed that depression was significantly associated with non-adherence to the diabetes regimen. In addition, the estimated odds of a depressed patient being non-adherent are 1.76 times the odds of a non-depressed patient, across 31 studies and 18,245 participants.3

Provide a Path to Care – Connect Employees to Providers

Employers can make accessing a mental or behavioral healthcare provider easier by offering a program that helps connect employees with providers who are in-network, vetted for quality of services and accepting new patients.4 They can also provide assistance by making sure employees know what programs and benefits are available. It’s one thing to offer mental health services to employees, but it’s equally important that everyone is familiar with and know how to access them.

Tria Health and Mental Health

Many patients decide to take medications in order to effectively manage their mental health. There are a variety of mental health medications currently on the market, ranging from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to atypical antidepressants. Because there isn’t a test to measure to brain chemicals, it can be a trial and error process to identify the best treatment for a patient. If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for mental health, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Source:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db172.htm
  2. Diabetes Care. 2008 Dec; 31(12): 2398–2403. doi: 10.2337/dc08-1341
  3. J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Oct;26(10):1175-82. doi: 10.1007/s11606-011-1704-y. Epub 2011 May 1.
  4. https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/increasing-employee-access-to-mental-health-benefits?tag=00000151-16d0-def7-a1db-97f024be0000

Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

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The sun is shining, the birds are chirping but unfortunately a lot of homes are still covered with the dust and clutter from winter. Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to freshen up our homes and get prepped for spring and summer fun! While you’re spring cleaning this year, be sure to take the time to go through your medicine cabinet and remove any unnecessary or expired medications.

What Should You Look For?

  • Check Expiration Dates: Taking a medication that is slightly expired is unlikely to cause harm, but it is possible that it may not work as well. In general, it is best to acquire a new prescription if your medication is expired. In addition, if the appearance of the medication has changed this may be an indication of an expired product. If you have an injectable solution or oral suspension that has changed colors or consistency this might indicate a new prescription is needed.
  • Find Leftover Prescriptions: Leftover antibiotics and other prescription medications from a previous condition should be discarded. You should never attempt to treat yourself or anyone else with a prescription medicine. Although your symptoms might seem similar to an illness you had before, the cause could be different, or the medicine may not be the right one to use this time around.1

Where to Dispose of Medications

Many people will try to flush their medications down the toilet or crush their medicines before throwing them in the trash to try and be safe. However, this can be dangerous. Flushing can end up polluting our waters and crushing medicines can put trash handlers at risk of exposure if the drug were to encounter their skin or if they were to breathe in the dust. Medicine take back programs are the best way to dispose of unwanted medicine. Click here to locate a year-round authorized collector in your area.

How can Tria Health Help?

As a member of Tria Health, if you have questions about whether or not you should dispose of your existing medications, call us and one of our pharmacists can give you the professional guidance you need. in addition, if you take multiple medications or have a chronic condition, Tria provides one-on-one consultations with a clinical pharmacist who can assist you with your medication management.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Source:

  1. http://www.healthcommunities.com/medications/spring-clean-your-medicine-cabinet.shtml