Phone and Mail Notices Help Increase Medication Adherence in High Cholesterol Patients

Monday, December 3rd, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

For less than $2.00 a person, nearly $290 billion annually in avoidable healthcare costs could be averted.

That’s the ultimate hope of a new study on medication non-adherence from Kaiser Permanente. Motivated by previous reports showing that one in three patients prescribed a medication by their healthcare provider never pick it up from the pharmacy, and among those that do, nearly 3 in 4 do not take prescription drugs according to providers’ orders, researchers initiated a call-back system. Patients who were newly prescribed cholesterol lowering statins received automated reminders within one week if they failed to pick their prescriptions up. The study showed they were 1.6 times more likely to fill it than those who didn’t receive a reminder. Automated mail reminders were also sent to those who failed to follow up after the initial phone call.

Both prompts cost researchers $1.70 per participant, and researchers believe the practice can be applied to patients with a wide range of chronic diseases.

For every dollar invested in wellness programs, employers of mid-sized companies save an average of $5.81, due to improved employee health, according to the American Journals of Health Promotion. The savings is attributed to a 27 percent reduction in employee sick leave, a 26 percent reduction in health costs, and a 32 percent decrease in workers’ compensation and disability claims.

But healthcare costs still remain high, in fact, more than half of U.S. companies spent significantly more on healthcare costs this past year, hindering business growth. An expert panel, comprised of executives from ADP and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, among others, has been created to look at employee wellness programs as a way of offsetting these expenses.

The costs of implementing Medicaid expansion under the ACA would be modest compared to significant increases in federal funds, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The coverage and budget impacts of the Medicaid expansion would vary across states. States that had already expanded coverage to adults — such as Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Maine, and Maryland — could see savings under the ACA due to higher matching rates for already covered populations. Meanwhile, states with relatively large uninsured populations prior to any coverage expansions — including Nevada, Florida and Mississippi — could see higher increases in state costs, but these increases are expected to be small compared to decreases in the uninsured and increases in federal matching funds.

And lastly, the costs of earning A’s on hospital rankings? Priceless. According to the newly updated Hospital Safety Scores&#8480, the grades assigned to U.S. hospitals for their rates of preventable medical errors, injuries, accidents, and infections, showed that both Massachusetts and Maine had outstanding hospital safety results: 83 percent of Massachusetts hospitals and 80 percent of Maine hospitals were awarded “A’s.”

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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