Active phone prompts spur Rx adherence rates among consumers, CVS reveals

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Consumers are much more likely to adhere to their prescription medication therapy if given “a clear and active choice” in recorded telephone prompts from their pharmacy, new research into patient compliance from CVS Caremark demonstrated.


The company announced Thursday the results of a long-term research project into patient behavior, conducted by its Behavior Change Research Partnership. Those findings, presented at a Pittsburgh Business Group on Health symposium, underline a clear connection between encouraging patients to get their maintenance medications refilled and improved adherence rates.



“Ongoing research into how behavioral economics impacts healthcare choices found that when consumers are presented with a clear and active choice in a voice-recorded message to select automatic prescription refills, rather than a passive default notification, they are twice as likely to choose the automatic option,” CVS said.



CVS established the BCRP in March to study how behavioral economics impacts consumer healthcare decisions. The research group also was created “to help the company better understand why some patients stop taking maintenance medications for chronic illnesses,” the company noted.



The research results were presented by Troyen Brennan, CVS Caremark EVP and chief medical officer. “The preliminary findings show that by making choices clear and by streamlining messages, consumers sign up at twice the rate of those who are passively presented opt-in choices,” Brennan told Pittsburgh business leaders Thursday. “This research will help us develop programs to encourage people to stay on their medications, because nonadherence is costing the healthcare system billions of dollars every year.”



The BCRP research, titled “Active Choice,” is testing options in four communication channels, CVS said. Those channels include interactive Web sign-ins, in-bound customer calls to care centers, automated outbound telephone calls and direct mail.



“The testing shows some options offered to consumers today are overlooked because the choices are not readily transparent,” the company said. “Past industry studies show one-quarter of people receiving prescriptions never fill their first prescriptions, and patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, adhere to their ongoing medication regimen about half of the time.”



The BCRP panel is led by Punam Anand Keller of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University and Kevin Volpp of University of Pennsylvania's Medical School and The Wharton School of Business. The presentation in Pittsburgh continued discussion of BCRP research that was first presented at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention symposium in Atlanta last month.


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