News Feature | March 21, 2016

Can Home Delivery Meds Improve Adherence?

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

How EHR Prior Authorization Can Help Your Health IT Clients Promote Medication Adherence

Is getting patients to take their medications as directed as simple as automatically refilling and delivering prescriptions to their homes?

A study of stroke survivors concluded patients who receive mail-order medications are notably more likely to avoid medication non-adherence compared to those who receive their prescriptions from a traditional pharmacy. The study, using data from Kaiser Permanente, suggests non-adherence is not just important for patients but also the entire healthcare industry — it cost nearly $337 billion in 2013 alone.

A release from the American Heart Association reports the study found:

  • patients who picked up their medications from local pharmacies were adherent about 47 percent of the time
  • patients who had their medications mailed to them were adherent almost 74 percent of the time
  • patients who only used local pharmacies were 56.4 percent adherent to their prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering statins
  • patients who received medications by mail were nearly 88 percent adherent

Health IT Analytics notes those taking anticoagulants saw similar results. Those receiving prescriptions from a pharmacy were adherent 45 percent of the time, and those receiving mail order medications were adherent 56 percent of the time.

Overall, a total of 48,746 patients refilled one of those medications, including 205,085 prescriptions for statins (136,722 by pharmacy and 68,363 by mail) and 50,483 prescriptions for anticoagulants (34,682 by pharmacy and 15,801 by mail).

Researchers concluded that based on these results, stroke survivors who get medications by mail are more likely to take them as directed than patients who get medications from local pharmacies.