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Simplifying Rx refills improves medication adherence

August 9, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Seniors who spent less time worrying about medication refills were more likely to take them.

A new study in the journal Health Affairs explored whether synchronizing medication refills, renewing all medications at the same time from the same pharmacy, improved medication adherence effectiveness.

It did. Patients whose prescription refills were synchronized were more likely to follow their medication regimens.

“If I’m an elderly person who needs care and support, I need someone to go to the pharmacy, or drive me. That in itself is a huge issue,” says Jalpa A. Doshi, PhD, study lead author, associate professor of medicine at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, to Kaiser Health News.

But even if prescriptions are delivered by mail, remembering when to order them can be difficult. Older adults are more likely to take their medicine compared to other age groups, though lapses in refills and not taking medications as directed can have serious health consequences.

Doshi and her colleagues found medication adherence increased by 23 and 26 percentage points for those at the start of the study who were least likely to follow orders, compared to between 13 and 15 percentage points in the control group.

Overall medication adherence increased 3 to 10 percentage points for participants whose medication refills were synchronized between September 2013 and December 2014. Adherence increased 1 to 5 points for those in the control group.

Researchers tracked 691 Medicare Advantage plan members taking medications for diabetes, hypertension or cardiac disease and who were participating in Humana’s pharmacy mail-order service.


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