Essentia Health Reduces Medication Costs by $1.8 Million
A two-year initiative to prescribe fewer brand name medications

In an effort to reduce the total cost of care at their organization, Essentia Health in Minnesota began a program in 2014 to reduce the number of brand name medications that their providers were prescribing. Most patients pay lower out-of-pocket costs for generic medications, and brand name options can sometimes require extra authorization on the pharmacy end, delaying patient care.

To support this initiative, Essentia started by making adjustments to their preference list strategy. Using reports built in Epic, they were able to target specific brand name medications included on various preference lists and tweak them to make the brand name options less likely to be suggested. They also started using alerts in Epic to call attention to high-cost medications that have a low-cost alternative and ask providers if they’d like to choose the generic option instead.

At the end of their two-year program, Essentia found that clinicians had accepted the suggested alternative for 19.3% of new orders and 3.8% of reorders, reducing costs by $1.82 million.

Epic community members can check out Essentia’s UGM presentation here.