|Mail Order Medicine: Just What The Doctor Ordered
In what they say is a first-of-its-kind study,
researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and
Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.,
found that patients who buy their prescription drugs through the mail
are more likely to stick to their doctor-prescribed medication regimen.
This was especially true of patients with diabetes, high blood pressure
or high cholesterol.
"Research in this area has traditionally focused on
patient factors for poor adherence, leading to a ‘blame the
patient’ approach for non-adherence," said Dr. O. Kenrik Duru,
assistant professor in the division of general internal medicine and
health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at
UCLA, and the study’s lead researcher.
"Our findings indicate that mail-order pharmacies
streamline the medication acquisition process, which is associated with
better medication adherence," he added.
Study researchers analyzed 2006 and 2007 medication
refill data from 13,922 Kaiser Permanente members in Northern
California. They defined "good adherence" as having medication
available and on hand at least 80 percent of the time.
They found that 84.7 percent of patients who received
their medications by mail at least two-thirds of the time stuck to
their physician-prescribed regimen, versus 76.9 percent who picked up
their medications at Kaiser Permanente pharmacies.
In a recent survey, Kaiser Permanente members listed
mail-order pharmacy among the top benefits of managing their health via
Kaiser Permanente’s personal health record, My Health Manager.
More then 3.4 million members use My Health Manager to conveniently
view lab results, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments and
securely email their doctors.
"Our findings suggest that there is a lot that health
care systems can do to provide support that makes it easier for
patients to take care of themselves and do the right thing," said Julie
Schmittdiel, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente’s
division of research.
Other findings include:
- Whites were more likely to use mail-order more than Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, blacks and people of mixed race; and
- Mail-order pharmacy users were more likely than local
pharmacy users to have a financial incentive to fill their
prescriptions by mail and live a greater distance away from a local
These findings need to be confirmed by a randomized controlled trial, Duru said.
Still, this research suggests that increased mail-order use to obtain medications could improve patients’ adherence.
Grants from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and the National Institute of Diabetes andDigestive and
Kidney Diseases funded this study.
The study was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
For more information on UCLA, visit www.ucla.edu.