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Hospitals trying to flag high medication costs

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Hospitals around America are looking for new and creative ways to control spiraling drug costs.

For instance, as this Washington Post story reports:

“Doctors at the University Hospitals of Cleveland see an immediately recognizable symbol pop up alongside certain drugs when they sign in online these days to prescribe medications for patients: $$$$$.

“The dollar signs, affixed by hospital administrators, carry a not-so-subtle message: Think twice before using this drug. Pick an alternative if possible.”

“Here’s the thing that makes it more challenging: The patient doesn’t initially see the price increase,”  Scott Knoer, chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic, which has built an algorithm to monitor drug prices, told The Post. “But it raises the cost for the hospital. Eventually, it catches up and it raises the cost for insurance companies, which is passed on to employers, employees and taxpayers through higher premiums and co-pays.”

The paper said that “Last year’s headline-grabbing spikes appear to have waned in recent months, perhaps because the issue has come under such an intense public spotlight.”

“I don’t think you’re going to see these 300, 400, 500 percent increases, at least for a while,” Mr. Knoer said, “even as he noted one 120 percent hike flagged by the hospital’s new algorithm.”

“We’ll still see significant increases, but it won’t be so obvious. Prices are not going down,” he said.

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