Diabetics Who Use Mail Order Pharmacies Less Likely to Visit ER: Study

Contrary to concerns, diabetic patients who received heart medications by mail were less likely to visit the emergency room than those who picked up prescriptions in person, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

The three-year study examined more than 17,000 adult Kaiser Permanente members with diabetes who were first prescribed heart medications in 2006. Researchers found that patients under age 65 who used mail order pharmacy had significantly fewer ER visits for any cause (34 percent) than those who picked up prescriptions (40 percent).

This study is the first to examine the potential impacts of mail order pharmacy on patient safety and utilization, and explores the concern of patients experiencing adverse outcomes because they do not meet face-to-face with a pharmacist.

The study did not look at possible reasons why the use of mail order pharmacies was associated with fewer ER visits, but researchers noted that further investigation may explore factors such as patients having disabilities, time constraints or limited transportation.

Kaiser Permanente’s mail order pharmacy works as follows: members have the option of picking up prescriptions at walk-in pharmacies located in Kaiser Permanente hospitals and outpatient medical buildings, or using its mail order pharmacy. Medications can be delivered by mail with free shipping; mail order requests can be made by phone or online; and mail order copayments are often lower for the same supply as walk-in pharmacies.

This study is part of Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing efforts to understand how mail order pharmacies can improve care. Previous studies have shown that patients who use mail order pharmacy have significantly better medication adherence and cholesterol management.

Source: Kaiser Permanente , November 22, 2013


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