UnitedHealth Group Inc. : Text Message Prescription Reminders Significantly Improve Patient Adherence to Oral Diabetes Medication
05/24/2012| 08:05am US/Eastern
Study shows that text message reminders can be effective in
diabetes treatment, even for patients over 60
A new study published in the May issue of Clinical
Therapeutics shows that 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 percent vs. 77 percent. The adherence rates for those
taking chronic anti-diabetes medication were even higher - 91 percent
vs. 82 percent. Medication adherence is defined as the extent to which
patients take their medications as instructed by a physician.
This is the first large-scale study in the United States to examine if a
text message program providing medication-specific reminders could
increase adherence. Previous research has shown a similar positive
impact; however, these studies were smaller in scope, often with fewer
than 100 participants, and focused on homogenous patient groups, such as
those who are being treated for the same disease.
"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."
OptumRx's text messaging adherence program - called 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. Those eligible for inclusion in the study opted to
receive at least one prescription specific dosage reminder for chronic
oral medication. These text message reminders can be set for active
prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter medications, and
consumers can specify how often they wish to receive the 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 percent of
medication-related hospital admissions in the United States are due to
poor medication adherence, costing the health care system roughly $100
billion per year."
In the study, medication adherence was measured by "proportion of days
covered" (PDC; a measurement that examines each day in period to
determine if the patient has the drug on hand) between Jan. 1, 2011, and
Aug. 1, 2011. After implementation of the text message program,
participants who took a chronic oral antidiabetes medication had a
significantly higher mean PDC than the control group (0.91 [0.14] vs.
0.82 [0.21]). Significant differences in mean PDC were also seen in
those who opted to receive text message reminders for beta-blocker
therapy over those in the control cohort (0.88 [0.18] vs. 0.71 [0.29]).
For all patients studied, the mean PDC was significantly higher for the
text message cohort than for the control cohort (0.85 [0.20] vs. 0.77
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
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.
OptumRx is part of Optum, a leading
information and technology-enabled health services company dedicated to
making the health system work better for everyone. Prescription
Solutions by OptumRx is an innovative pharmacy benefit management
organization managing the prescription drug benefits of commercial,
Medicare and other governmental health plans, as well as those of
employers and unions through a national network of 64,000 community
pharmacies and state-of-the-art mail service pharmacies in California
and Kansas, both of which have earned the prestigious Verified Internet
Pharmacy Practice Sites™ (VIPPS®) accreditation by the National
Association of Boards of Pharmacy®. Visit www.optum.com
for more information.
Optum is a leading information and
technology-enabled health services business dedicated to making the
health system work better for everyone. Optum is comprised of three
companies - OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx - representing more
than 30,000 employees worldwide who collaborate to deliver intelligent
solutions that modernize the health system, improve overall population
health and support Sustainable Health Communities. Optum serves the
broad health care marketplace, including care providers, plan sponsors,
government agencies, life sciences companies and consumers.
David Himmel, 714-226-3772
© Business Wire 2012