Text messaging for improved adherence
Medication non-adherence has many causes, so customers need a broad-based strategy that helps members to manage their medications. One part of our multi-phased approach to improved adherence rests on taking our member online experience beyond simple transactions to allow personalized support to help members remember to fill and take their prescriptions drugs. A new text message service called My Medication Reminders has been shown to support improved medication compliance.1
Non-adherence challenging, widespread
Even the best drugs can't work if people don't take them. However, non-adherence is a real and widespread problem, with many causes. Just this year the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that 20 to 30 percent of medication prescriptions are never filled and that, on average, 50 percent of medications for chronic disease are not taken as prescribed.2
The consequences are severe. Nearly 70 percent of certain medication-related hospital admissions are linked to medication non-adherence, as are 40 percent of all nursing home admissions.3 Non-adherence has been estimated to cost the U.S. health care system between $100 and $289 billion annually in direct costs for additional doctor visits, emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and additional medicines, as well as being linked to approximately 125,000 deaths per year.2,3
But what if we turn the issue around? Looked at from another angle, adherence represents one of the great untapped opportunities for improving health care outcomes.
A review of studies over the last 40 years shows that medication adherence has a direct impact on clinical, utilization and economic outcomes.4 And one estimate is that every one percent improvement in adherence would result in $2 billion in savings to our health care system, not to mention better health for patients.3
My Medication Reminders
My Medication Reminders lets members sign up to receive text message reminders so they won't forget to take or fill their medications. This is important, because text reminders have been shown to improve medication adherence in members taking long-term or maintenance medications.1
Here is a look at the set-up page and text messages:
Adherence results for My Medication Reminders were featured in a study published in the May, 2012 issue of Clinical Therapeutics. The study showed that patients who participate in a text message prescription reminder program have significantly higher adherence (+12 percent) to chronic oral medications than those in a control group.5
Furthermore, the OptumRx study showed that these increased adherence rates translated into an estimated total healthcare savings of $724 per year per member for members using text reminders compared to members not participating.6
If we calculate these savings based on just 1,000 members, we find a projected total health care savings of nearly a million dollars per year, or, $724,178.6
My Medication Reminders won the 2012 Platinum award for Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection from URAC, a leading health care accreditation organization.5
"This program empowers patients to take advantage of technology in a simplified manner in order to assist them in maximizing their health care treatment."
Brian Solow, MD, FAAFP
Chief Medical Officer
Hear a deeper dive into the methodologies and results of the Optum Rx study on the impact of text messaging on adherence. We're happy to present this webcast: Medication Non Adherence: A Hard Pill to Swallow.
- Mary Jenkins, PharmD, MS V.P. Clinical Client Management
- Kalee Foreman, PharmD Clinical Pharmacist, Clinical Formulary Development
- Eric Fisk, MBA Sr. Director, Interactive Strategies
They will present the latest thinking around the causes of non-adherence, discuss some of the current national industry trends that impact adherence and explain how strategies that are focused on medication adherence are working for reduced costs.
Click on the link above to access this informative discussion. Then, be sure to ask your UnitedHealthcare representative for more about our interconnected strategies approach to improved medication adherence.