What We're Reading: Walgreens Creates Game to Improve Medication Adherence

August 17, 2016

What we're reading, August 17, 2016: Walgreens looks to gamify medication adherence; Aetna warned the Department of Justice that if its merger wasn't approved, it would pull back from exchange participation; and the controversy behind numbers of medication error deaths.

Walgreens customers will have the opportunity to earn points for discounts if they are adherent to their medications. According to The Chicago Tribune, Walgreens will offer a free digital health program for patients on certain drugs to earn points and compare how well they are doing against other anonymous “players.” The game awards points for taking medications on time, for refilling prescriptions, and for taking quizzes about their conditions and medications. When the program starts, it will be limited to certain diabetes patients.

Aetna has warned that Department of Justice (DOJ) that if its proposal to buy Humana is to approved, it will leave much of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. Aetna’s CEO wrote in a letter to the DOJ that if the transaction is blocked, it would “have a negative financial impact” and Aetna would not be able to continue supporting the exchanges set up under President Obama’s healthcare reform law, reported Reuters. Since that letter was sent, July 5, Aetna has made the decision to pull back its involvement in the exchanges.

Reports on deaths resulting from medication errors can be controversial. In a post for The New York Times’ The Upshot, Aaron E. Carroll, MD, MS, tries to provide some context for the attention-grabbing statistics that tend to make headlines. He notes that it can be very difficult to prove what events cause death and which events are correlated with a death. In addition, the potential harms of going to the hospital may not outweigh the potential benefits of being treated.