Automated Reminders Improve Medication Adherence & Cholesterol Control

In a published study, researchers observed that people who received automated reminders were more likely to refill their blood pressure and cholesterol medications. The study included more than 21,000 Kaiser Permanente members in Oregon, Washington, Georgia, and Hawaii who had diabetes or heart disease and who were on medications for management of their disease from 2010-2011. The researchers examined the PROMPT reminder program and used three arms: usual care, an automated telephone intervention, and a personalized health report and educational mailings. The interactive phone calls lasted about 2-3 minutes, reminding patients to refill their prescription and then giving them the option to be transferred to an automated refill line, or in some cases to speak with the pharmacist. At the beginning of the study, patients were taking their medications a little more than half the time. Adherence levels went up among all participants, but increased by more (1.6-3.7%) among participants who received the reminders. This may not seem significant, but the authors say that, in a large population, even small changes can make a big difference. Patients in the enhanced group also saw significant reductions in their cholesterol levels. The effect was more apparent in those considered uncontrolled with levels above 100 mg/dl. On average, this group had a 3.6mg/dl greater reduction in cholesterol compared to people with usual care who started uncontrolled but received no reminders. The small jump might not mean a lot to an individual patient, but on a population level, it could translate into fewer health complications such as heart attacks, resulting in fewer deaths and fewer hospitalizations to make a positive impact on public health. (Ref: Cynthia S. Rand, PhD et al. Improving Adherence to Cardiovascular Disease Medications with Information Technology. American Journal of Managed Care, November 2014).