Medication adherence tops list of ways to optimize outcomes

September 1, 2008

There's been a continued interest in how medication adherence can improve both health outcomes and patient safety.

NATIONAL REPORTS - There's been a continued interest in how medication adherence can improve both health outcomes and patient safety.

"In general, patients aren't following recommended healthcare guidelines, and they tend to underestimate distant outcomes of care, especially when they don't see results from a medication immediately," says Troyen Brennan, MD, Aetna's chief medical officer.

Through a grant from the independent Aetna Foundation, Aetna is supporting a study that looks at whether a lottery-type prize can boost adherence to warfarin. Warfarin, an anticoagulant used to help prevent blood clots from forming, is the medication recommended for prevention of thromboembolism. The study is being done by University of Pennsylvania researchers.

"[The study] is designed to discover if adherence to warfarin is improved by offering patients financial incentives," says Dr. Brennan. "Primarily, we will examine whether financial incentives prompted patients to take their medications as prescribed. This should lead to improved health outcomes."

Bruce A. Kehr, MD, chairman and CEO of InforMedix Inc., a medication adherence solutions company in Rockville, Md., agrees. "There is increased focus on outcomes management as opposed to cost cutting in the managed care industry," he says. "One of the surest ways of optimizing outcomes while simultaneously reducing costs is to improve medication adherence."

Aetna also will look at the intervention's cost-effectiveness. "This is public research that we would like to publish. If it results in good information, we would look to incorporate it in our programs and hope that others do the same," Dr. Brennan says.