Syncing Medicare Advantage prescriptions boosts adherence

Drugs

When Medicare Advantage patients pick up all their medication refills on the same day at the same place, medication adherence improves, according to a joint study from Penn Medicine and Humana’s research arm.

“Synchronizing” refills over the course of 12 months increased adherence by 3 percent to 5 percent, according to the study. The researchers said the effect was more pronounced among patients with lower baseline adherence.

Driving to multiple pharmacies on different days every month for medication is inefficient--each extra step it takes to receive medication “represents an opportunity for a supply problem, and thereby an adherence problem” according to the researchers.

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Unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and other issues arising from not following doctors’ medication instructions cause up to $289 billion in waste--approximately 13 percent of healthcare spending.

Initiatives to improve adherence have included financial incentives and technology such as alerts from electronic pill bottles. Simple text message alerts have also been used to double the chance a patient adheres to medication requirements.

Healthcare experts have dubbed non-adherence “one of our largest public health issues.” Developing interoperability platforms, standardizing drug codes in EHRs, improving EHR data and capturing medication management in EHRs are “gaps” hampering efforts to improve adherence, FierceHealthcare has reported.

- read the study

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