Pharmaceutical Restrictions: Possible Effect on Patient/Physician Buy-In of Disease Management Programs
C. Daniel Mullins
Simu K. Thomas
David S. Roffman
Restrictions on the use of pharmaceuticals (such as those for low molecular weight heparins) are commonly imposed by healthcare organizations to combat rising health care costs. These restrictions can be system-based which are established by imposing specific coverage policies by insurance companies and payors or can be patient-based which are those that limit certain therapeutic agents to specified patient populations. Disease management (DM) programs are implemented by healthcare organizations to improve patient care while utilizing resources efficiently. From a payor perspective, restricted use of pharmaceuticals would conform to the goals of DM. However, from a practitioner's perspective, restrictions on the use of medications could sometimes be viewed as conflicting with their goal of providing appropriate patient care. Formularies and prior-authorization programs may sometimes impede physicians' clinical autonomy and may hinder physicians' willingness to participate in DM protocols with such drug restrictions. Furthermore, direct-to-patient advertisements and patient education are encouraging patients to participate actively in the drug selection process. When pharmaceutical restrictions prevent patients from receiving their drug of choice, patients may perceive that their treatment is suboptimal and unfavorable. Despite implementing a fine disease management protocol, imposing rigid drug-use restrictions could hinder physicians' and patients' buy-in of DM programs.
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