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Automated Phone and Mail Notices Increase Medication Adherence
Date:11/26/2012

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Patients newly prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medication were more likely to pick it up from the pharmacy if they received automated phone and mail reminders, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine today. This is one of a few published studies to examine strategies for reducing primary nonadherence, which occurs when patients do not pick up new prescriptions.  

The study of 5,216 Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients found that those who received an automated reminder were 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering statins than those who didn't receive a reminder. Informational and encouraging phone calls were automatically generated if a patient did not pick up his or her medication within one or two weeks of a doctor's appointment where a prescription was written. One week after the telephone call, researchers sent a reminder letter to patients who still had not picked up their prescription. When systems for automated outreach exist, the expense of outreach is relatively small.  Expenses for both these prompts totaled $1.70 per participant in the study. After the intervention, the percentage of patients who picked up their prescriptions 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," said Stephen F. Derose, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. "This automated intervention is a good way to very efficiently reach a large number of people and improve their health outcomes."

Medication nonadherence occurs when a patient does not follow a clinically prescribed medication course, endangering his or her own health and possibly necessitating more aggressive treatment or hospitalizations later. Previous studies estimated that in the
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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