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Epic’s Price Transparency Tool Shows Patients Out-of-Pocket Medication Costs

Allina Health improves the patient experience by taking the surprise out of prescription costs

Six hundred doctors at Allina Health in Minnesota are using a price transparency tool embedded in Epic to have meaningful discussions with patients about what they’ll pay out of pocket for medications.

A patient’s estimated out-of-pocket cost appears in Epic when a provider is ordering a prescription. The estimate appears automatically as the provider signs the order if there are lower-cost alternatives or prior authorization requirements. Providers can also choose to see estimates while looking for medications.

Greater price transparency up front improves the patient experience, especially for patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or on a fixed income. Patients can be more confident in out-of-pocket estimates from Allina because the estimates also factor in insurance and pharmacy costs, data points Epic can retrieve from multiple sources.

Patients who know the price of their care can ask about cheaper medications or learn from their provider why a more expensive medication is necessary. More trust in the direction of their care could lead to greater medication adherence and improved health outcomes.

Allina’s tool has been in use since April 2019 and is already finding savings for patients and building stronger patient-provider relationships.

“A patient asked about the medication cost, and I saw it was $240 out of pocket,” said Dr. David Ingham. “Epic showed an equivalent medication that was only $20, so I ordered that instead.”

Read more from NPR. Learn more about Epic community member UCHealth’s initiative to share price estimates for procedures and tests in MyChart.