Intermountain Healthcare is leading a new effort to lower drug costs for consumers. This collaboration with Ascension, SSM Health, and Trinity Health, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), represents 450+ U.S. hospitals across the country. Their mission? To make essential generic medications more available and more affordable for patients.

Retail prescription drug expenditures were estimated to account for about 12% of total personal healthcare service spending in the U.S. in 2015, up from about 7% through the 1990s, according to a report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). Pharmaceutical company profit margins are also way up, an average of 17%. Compared to 4­–9% for non-drug companies, the rise in profit correlates with big drug-price increases and has had real impacts on patient care. Exacerbating this issue is that there are fewer competitors in the drug industry.

That's about to change. According to a January 18th news release, Marc Harrison, MD, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, believes the new collaboration, tentatively named Project Rx, will be transformative for the generic drug market.  “It’s an ambitious plan,” said Dr. Harrison, “but healthcare systems are in the best position to fix the problems in the generic drug market.  We witness, on a daily basis, how shortages of essential generic medications or egregious cost increases for those same drugs affect our patients.  We are confident we can improve the situation for our patients by bringing much-needed competition to the generic drug market.”

» Related content:  “These Hospitals Are Sick of High Drug Prices. So They're Starting Their Own Nonprofit Drug Company,” Fortune

Many might agree with Harrison’s characterization of the plan as “ambitious” but few would be surprised. Intermountain is an established pioneer in many ways—the group developed one of the first EMR (electronic medical record) programs in the country and has worked continuously to improve healthcare with fact-based evidence curated in their own databases. The company’s focus, helping people live the healthiest lives possible, relies on data-driven analysis to help doctors and other business leaders improve clinical care.

Late last year, the TBM Council published a new case study highlighting Intermountain Healthcare’s data-driven approach to the delivery of care and services. The organization uses TBM to steward technology decisions that improve clinical outcomes and lower medical costs, and the study emphasizes the healthcare provider’s commitment to “developing, maintaining, and evolving technologies that support their ability to provide the highest quality patient care.”

By disrupting the market for generic drugs, Intermountain Healthcare is about to make its biggest impact yet.

 

Read the TBM Council case study Optimizing IT's role in efficient healthcare delivery.