Economics of using pharmacists as advisers to physicians in risk-sharing contracts

Richard J. Zunker, Dawn L. Carlson, Allison Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


An educational program designed to help physicians control the overall cost of drugs and total health care is described, along with its effectiveness at one managed health care plan. Prime Therapeutics, Inc., developed and manages an ongoing physician education program designed to help primary care physicians control drug and total health care costs. Physician education initiatives in the program are developed by using peer-reviewed literature; selections of preferred drugs are based on evidence of their safety, efficacy, uniqueness, and cost-effectiveness. For a typical educational initiative, a pharmacist meets with the physicians identified as being among the top 20% of prescribers of high-cost drugs addressed by the initiative and delivers a 20-minute presentation. One-on-one meetings with the physicians are then held quarterly to review their prescribing. Each physician is shown comparisons with the prescribing patterns of other physicians in the organization. The clinic chooses to present the clinicwide data as either blinded or nonblinded data. The program was evaluated by comparing per member per month (PMPM) total health care and drug costs for 1996 and 1997 at 12 general medicine clinics in a managed health care plan. Five clinics received no interventions, three clinics allowed the initial presentation and the quarterly face-to-face meetings, and four clinics allowed only the presentation and barred ongoing meetings. In general, the clinics with more interaction between pharmacists and physicians had lower PMPM costs for total health care and drugs than the clinics with less interaction. Pharmacists acting as advisers to primary care physicians in general medicine clinics helped lower PMPM costs of drugs and total health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-755
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2000


  • Costs
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Health care
  • Interventions
  • Pharmacists, institutional
  • Physicians
  • Prescribing

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