Automated reminders prove successful in improving medication adherence

December 19, 2012

Physicians whose patients had not filled prescriptions for statins for lowering their cholesterol levels 2 weeks after they were prescribed were successful in cutting primary nonadherence rates by using a strategy of automated phone calls and letters, according to a new study.

Physicians whose patients had not filled prescriptions for statins for lowering their cholesterol levels 2 weeks after they were prescribed were successful in cutting primary nonadherence rates by using a strategy of automated phone calls and letters, according to a new study.

Basing their study on the assumption that medication nonadherence may decrease if patients received encouraging reminders and information about the benefits of their prescribed therapy, researchers at Southern California Kaiser Permanente and Merck found the interventions to be successful among all age groups and for a cost of only about $1.70 per patient.

Roughly 42% of patients in the intervention group filled their prescriptions after the reminders were sent, compared with only 26% in the control group, according to the study. Patients who filled prescriptions after the reminders were sent did so between the day of the phone call and up to 2 weeks after the delivery of the reminder letter.

For the intervention group, the automated phone calls-which started with a greeting and lasted about 40 seconds-were made 1 to 2 weeks after the prescription date. The personalized message contained information about the prescribed drug and its importance and contact information for a local health plan pharmacy. Personalized letters-printed in both English and Spanish and signed by the patient’s physician-were mailed a week after the phone call.

The full study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and was funded by grants from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co.

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