Study: Automated, Live Reminders Promote Medication Adherence

November 18, 2014 in News

Automated reminders produced by electronic health record systems and live reminders can increase medication adherence rates, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, EHR Intelligence reports (Bresnick, EHR Intelligence, 11/17).

Details of Study

The study aimed to determine the effectiveness of the PROMPT reminder program.

Between 2010 and 2011, researchers examined 21,752 Kaiser Permanente patients in Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. All participants were diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease and were taking medication to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Using Kaiser’s EHR system, researchers identified patients who were soon to be due or late for a medication refill for:

  • An ACE inhibitor;
  • An angiotensin receptor blocker; or
  • A statin (Kaiser release, 11/17).

Patients were divided into three groups:

  • Those who received automated telephone calls to remind them to refill medications;
  • Those who received enhanced reminders, including letters and live calls; and
  • Those who received standard care (EHR Intelligence, 11/17).

Findings

According to the study, medication adherence rates increased most among the two groups of patients receiving reminders (Kaiser release, 11/17).

Specifically, adherence for ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers increased by:

  • 1.6 percentage points among patients who received automated reminders; and
  • 3.7 percentage points among patients who received enhanced reminders.

Meanwhile, statin adherence was about 2.2 percentage points higher among patients who received automated reminders and three percentage points higher among those who received enhanced reminders.

In follow-up interviews with 49 participants, researchers found that:

  • 70% appreciated receiving a reminder call; and
  • About 60% said the calls prompted them to check the status of their medication and take action if necessary (Vollmer et al., AJMC, 11/16).

The study also found that patients who received enhanced reminders significantly reduced their cholesterol levels.

Implications

Lead author Bill Vollmer said that while the improvement in adherence rates appeared small, they are statistically significant. He said, “This small jump might not mean a lot to an individual patient, but on a population level it could translate into fewer heart attacks, fewer deaths and fewer hospitalizations, which will ultimately have an important impact on public health” (EHR Intelligence, 11/17).

Researchers also noted that the “sustainability” of a reminder system depends on whether patients find the program useful (AJMC, 11/16).

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