Real-time prescription drug pricing tool helps save patients money

Updated: September 13, 2019 06:30 PM

Mary Kay Gilbert has a nursing background.

She knows what visits to the doctor's office are all about. But on one of her recent trips, she was surprised to learn about a new tool.


"I was surprised my physician was able to give me insights as to the cost [of prescription drugs] because that was a new thing to me," said Gilbert.

A real-time prescription pricing tool embedded in patients' electronic health record shows patients right there in the doctor's office how much they will pay for a prescription based on their specific insurance coverage and their pharmacy. 

600 Allina Health family doctors are currently using the tool, like Gary Konkol.

"It's a way for us to know if someone if going to be going to the pharmacy and be disappointed because the drug is too expensive," said Konkol.

Even though this new tool will help you save money, Americans still pay far more for prescription drugs than people in other countries.

The tool also allows doctors to find more affordable drug alternatives when possible and allows them to start the process of getting authorization for a drug if the patient's insurer requires it.

"It gave me that information so I wasn't showing up at a pharmacy with sticker price shock as far as what this could cost," said Gilbert.

Experts say patients leave hundreds of thousands of prescriptions at pharmacies every year, many times because they are too expensive, which means putting their own health at risk and increasing health care costs down the road.

The hope is this tool will help.

"It should give us the ability to give them [patients] medicines that should be covered by their insurance so they should be more affordable," said Konkol.

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Jessica Miles

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