By Katherine H. Capps, Co-Founder and Executive Director, GTMRx Institute
January 1, 2020
Did you ever have one of those moments when your life’s work unexpectedly and suddenly takes on a whole new, deeper meaning and urgency? I recently experienced such an extraordinary moment doing something rather ordinary.
About every three months, a close friend and I retreat to our favorite wine bar for a few hours to catch up and talk about everything—family, work, life and what we’re doing to keep it all together as professional women trying to make our mark and leave the world (or at least health care) better than we found it.
The conversation inevitably turns to our own health—how we feel, what we’re worried about, what we’re doing to stay ahead of what’s ahead. But this last time it was different.
I knew my friend has been fighting advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis for at least 15 years. We’ve talked about the medications she’s tried. What’s made her sick, what did absolutely nothing to help, what gives her some relief some of the time. We’ve strategized about things she could try, different therapies, different physicians. I typically feel like I’ve helped my friend in some way, even if it is just giving her some leads on promising new research I’ve read about. This time, I didn’t feel helpful. I felt ashamed.
Why? I was struck with the fact that even though I have been a part of a national movement to launch the Get the Medications Right Institute, I have no idea how to guide or help her as she struggles with a regime of 7 prescription medications while seeing 4 physicians who don’t seem to coordinate the medications she is taking. The economics of her situation seem even more startling: in addition to her annual out-of-pocket $21,600 health insurance premium spend, $4200 a year is spent for a medication cocktail of solutions that leave her feeling less than vital, and questioning whether she should be on all (or maybe different) medications.
Despite my personal work to start a new movement to fix the very things in our health care system that are contributing to my friend’s heart sickening situation, I don’t have the magic words that will significantly change things for her.
I know that there is no changing her diagnosis, but I want to help her find a solution to the one thing that can be—should be—changeable: the less than adequate evaluation, coordination and management of her medications.
Suggesting that she “seek a medication expert” isn’t enough to empower her as a consumer if her physicians do not understand what a team-based, personalized and comprehensive approach to medication use is (and what it is not). It’s not enough if her health plan or her PBM aren’t coordinating in an organized way with her PCP, specialists and clinical pharmacists to ensure that they have access to her clinical information and diagnostic findings. It isn’t enough if no one is accountable for making sure that she is on the right combination of medications, for her.
It is now, in the midst of what are her very real struggles, that I feel I should be able to, in some small but important way, help her. Instead, I am left feeling very helpless. And for someone wired to make things happen, this feeling is all the more unnerving to me.
I know my friend is not alone. There are many others in her position that need our help today, not five years from now. And I know that I’m not alone in wanting to do something that will help my friend and others I care about who are facing similar challenges.
Those involved with the GTMRx Institute believe that action changes things—and want to make that action happen faster. We are committed to advancing acceptance and recognition by providers and payors (to include employers) of the importance of creating a systematic, evidence-based approach to medications and their rational use. We believe that this is an important long-term solution, saving lives and saving money.
As we begin 2020, my resolve has never been stronger. I am ready to act and I invite you to join me and the GTMRx Institute as we educate physicians, equip consumers and challenge those who pay for health care to make available those value-added medication management services that experience and science proves will lead to appropriate use of medications and gene therapies.
I’m committed to changing the path for my friend, and for those like her. I hope you’ll join me and the hundreds of clinical, industry and policy leaders who are taking on this most important and achievable goal to get the medications right.