Getting patients to doctors, and getting them approved for prescriptions, are two hurdles that everyone in the health industry, including pharma, contend with daily. But then the next step—getting the prescription filled and picking it up—is a further problem, a circumstance known as “prescription abandonment.” Academic studies have shown that upwards of a third of all written prescriptions never get filled.
Now, Luis Angel, head of GetMyRx, Inc., has developed an iPhone app that has been rolled out locally in the Miami-Dade area since November, with encouraging preliminary results. The app is sponsored (paid for) by local pharmacies; when a patient inputs the prescription information (via a scan of the scrip, or via connecting to an e-prescribing system), a list shows up of local pharmacies that can fill the scrip. Some pharmacies will deliver the filled prescription to the patient’s door. Angel says that besides improving patient adherence, a benefit to all in healthcare, the system allows independent pharmacies to compete more effectively against the big chains.
Not that those chains are sitting on their heels; CVS Caremark has just announced publication of an ongoing research program (with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts) that patients maintaining an 80% (medication possession ratio)—generally considered the level that characterizes a patient as “adherent”—were up to 24% less likely to be readmitted. The disease state studied was “major cardiovascular event” (including myocardial infarctions, strokes and other conditions), and the therapies covered a variety of cardiovascular drugs, including beta-blockers, statins, angiotensin inhibitors or blockers.
"While it is widely accepted that patients who are adherent to prescribed medications for chronic conditions have better outcomes than non-adherent patients, there has not been solid data that defines the optimal level of adherence," said Niteesh Choudhry, MD, PhD, associate physician, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor, Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study.
The study is published in the January 2014 issue of American Heart Journal.