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Study: Automatic Reminders Increase Medication Adherence

November 26, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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Improving medication adherence remains one of the healthcare system’s greatest challenges. According to a recent study from the Oakland, Calif.-based integrated system, Kaiser Permanente, patients who receive automatic reminders are 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering statins than those who don’t get one.

Researchers looked at 5,216 Kaiser patients in Southern California, and gave a number of them automatic reminders to fill their prescriptions in the form of a phone call or a reminder letter. According to the researchers, the automatic reminders cost $1.70 per participant and the adherence levels of patients increased from 26 to 42 percent.

“Getting patients to take the well-proven medicines their physicians prescribe for them will ultimately reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke,” Stephen F. Derose, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, said in a statement.  “This automated intervention is a good way to very efficiently reach a large number of people and improve their health outcomes.”

According to Kaiser’s researchers,medication non-adherence contributes to approximately 125,000 deaths and costs the health care system $290 billion in the U.S. Furthermore, the study’s authors say a third of prescribed patients never pick up a medication from the pharmacy.

Kaiser has also done a study that showed how whose pharmacies are linked to their EHRs are more likely to pick up their prescriptions.

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