December 5, 2012
Statins More Often Picked Up at Pharmacy With
Automated Reminders

Pasadena, CA—Automated phone and email reminders significantly increased the number of patients with new statin prescriptions who picked them up at a pharmacy, according to a new study.

The study, published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at strategies for reducing medication nonadherence.

In the study of 5,216 Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients, researchers found that those who received an automated reminder were 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering statins than those who did not receive a reminder.

The first reminders—informational and encouraging phone calls—were automatically generated when patients failed to pick up their medications within 1 or 2 weeks after receiving a prescription from a physician. A week after the telephone calls, letters were sent to patients who still had not picked up their prescriptions.

Overall, the percentage of patients retrieving their prescriptions increased from 26% among more than 2,600 study participants who received no reminders to 42% among an equivalent number of those who did. The cost for the intervention was low, at about $1.70 per patient, study authors noted.

“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.”

Based on the results of the study, a new regional outreach program was established last April by Kaiser Permanente Southern California, which sends reminders to about 2,200 members each month.

“Given the prevalence of the problem, especially among patients with chronic conditions, minor improvements in medication adherence among groups of people should yield significantly better health outcomes for patients and savings for hospitals and health systems,” Derose said.

Study authors conclude, “The intervention was effective in reducing primary non-adherence to statin medications. Because of low marginal costs for outreach, this strategy appears feasible for reducing primary non-adherence. This approach may generalize well to other medications and chronic conditions.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect