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Study Shows OptumRx Text Message Program Significantly Increases Adherence
July 6, 2012
The consequences of not taking medications as prescribed – or at all – can be serious, especially for people managing chronic diseases. To achieve the best health outcomes, medications must be taken as prescribed by a physician.
Optum’s My Medication Reminders program can help members maintain their medication routine with convenient text alerts. Members can access the program and set up reminders from the online member portal or their mobile phone by using the OptumRxTM app.
The user enters the phone number for the text message to be sent. They then select the type of reminder they would like to receive and the medication dosage they should be taking. The program is available through all major mobile brands and providers.
The technology was piloted in September 2010, and data from a recent study in the May issue of Clinical Therapeutics supports that the program is having an impact. According to the study, patients who participate in a text message prescription reminder program have significantly higher adherence to chronic oral medications than those in a control group.
The study of 580 employer-sponsored and Medicare members of a national pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) found that patients receiving text message reminders had better medication adherence rates than those who did not – 85% versus 77%. The adherence rates for those taking chronic anti-diabetes medication were even higher – 91% versus 82%. Medication adherence is defined as the extent to which patients take their medications as instructed by a physician.
“This research provides strong evidence that technology can play a vital role in improving medication adherence, even among older patients” said Brian K. Solow, M.D., chief medical officer, OptumRx. “This is of great importance to all stakeholders in health care because poor medication adherence can lead to inferior treatment outcomes, higher hospitalization rates and increased health care costs.”
My Medication Reminders was studied between Sept. 15, 2010, and Aug. 31, 2011. With My Medication Reminders, participants can opt to provide their mobile phone number, mobile carrier and time zone, and select any combination of reminder choices: refill; renewals; prescription transfer; order shipped; general daily medication reminder; and prescription specific dosage reminders.
“Text messages and emerging technologies offer new opportunities to educate and engage patients so they can improve their health and ultimately rein in their health care costs,” said Kalee Foreman, Pharm.D, OptumRx, lead author of the study. “A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly 70% of medication-related hospital admissions in theUnited States are due to poor medication adherence, costing the health care system roughly $100 billion per year.”
The study authors noted that additional research is needed to determine if text messaging improves medication adherence in patients known to be non-adherent, as well as long-term medication adherence rates.
Study Design and Population
The cohort analysis was conducted using OptumRx’s consumer Web-portal database and electronic pharmacy claims. The study population consisted of continuously enrolled members of an OptumRx employer-sponsored, Medicare prescription drug plan (PDP), or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) plan from Jan. 1, 2010, through Aug. 31, 2011. Patients were eligible for inclusion in the text message reminder cohort if they had opted to receive at least one medication-specific dosage reminder for a chronic oral medication of interest and had at least one pharmacy claim for the same chronic oral medication of interest between Sept. 15, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2010.
For more information, contact your UnitedHealthcare representative.
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