ATS 2009, SAN DIEGOAutomated phone calling may help physicians solve a perennial problem: patients who don't take medicine prescribed for chronic health conditions.
Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in Portland, Oregon, tested an automated calling service designed to encourage patients with asthma to fill or refill their prescriptions for inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
The research will be presented on May 17 at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego.
"The trial demonstrated a modest, but statistically significant, improvement in compliance," said William M. Vollmer, Ph.D., senior investigator at the center, who led the trial. "And even a small change in adherence can potentially produce a big public health benefit, especially when the disease is as prevalent as asthma."
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, about 22 million Americans have asthma, most need to take medicine daily for long-term control of the disease and ICS are the preferred medicines for gaining that control.
The 18-month-long trial involved approximately 8,600 members enrolled in the integrated health system in the Northwest United States and Hawaii. Member participants were randomized to usual care and to the phone calling system.
The study found that the calls increased estimated medication adherence two percent beyond the compliance of patients receiving usual care (40 percent versus 38 percent; p< .01). Among those 60 years of age and older, medication adherence rose four percent.
Dr. Vollmer's presentation at the ATS International Conference will focus on the study's primary outcome: medication adherence. Future analyses will assess the intervention's impact on healthcare utilization and quality of life, as well as the cost-effectiveness of the automated calling system.
The study used Kaiser Permanente's electronic medical records to identify who s
|Contact: Keely Savoie|
American Thoracic Society