They found that 84.7 percent of patients who received their medications by mail at least two-thirds of the time stuck to their physician-prescribed regimen, versus 76.9 percent who picked up their medications at "brick and mortar" Kaiser Permanente pharmacies.
"The results were consistent for all three classes of medication, including medications to control diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol," explained co-investigator Julie A. Schmittdiel, PhD, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.
"Our findings suggest that there is a lot that health care systems can do to provide support that makes it easier for patients to take care of themselves and do the right thing."
Other findings include:
After adjusting for other variables, whites were more likely to use mail-order more than 2/3 of the time (24.1 percent) than were Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.4 percent), Hispanics (5.2 percent), blacks (4.0 percent), and people of mixed race (8.0 percent).
Mail-order pharmacy users were more likely than local pharmacy users to have a financial incentive to fill their prescriptions by mail (49.6 percent vs. 23.0 percent), and to live a greater distance away from a local pharmacy (8.0 miles vs. 6.7 miles). An example of a financial incentive is receiving a three-month supply of medications for the cost of a two-month supply.
While other research has examined the association between mail-order vs. local pharmacy types and medication cost, this is the first to look at the relationship between pharmacy type and adherence. Furthermore, it controls for differences in medication days' supply and out-of-pocket costs between mail-order and local pharmacy users, something other datasets don't include.
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