Phone, mail reminders improve statin adherence, study finds

Kaiser Permanente study finds adherence improved by 16 percentage points

PASADENA, Calif. — Automated phone and mail reminders increase the likelihood that patients with new prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs will pick them up from the pharmacy, according to a new study.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California enrolled 5,216 patients and found that those receiving an automated reminder were 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for statin drugs than those who didn't receive reminders. The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine Monday.

When patients didn't pick up their drugs within one or two weeks of a doctor's appointment, they received informational and encouraging phone calls and received a reminder letter if they still had not picked up the medication a week after the phone call. The phone and mail prompts cost $1.70 per patient, according to the study, and after the intervention, the percentage of patients who picked up their prescriptions increased from 26% to 42%.

"Getting patients to take the well-proven medicines their physicians prescribe them will ultimately reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke," Kaiser Permanente Southern California researcher Stephen Derose said. "This automated intervention is a good way to very efficiently reach a large number of people and improve their health outcomes."

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