Researchers have found that physicians armed with the right information can play a stronger role in ensuring asthma patients have better medication adherence to prevent asthma attacks. The study—the first large-scale, controlled study to test the effectiveness of routinely providing patient medication adherence information to physicians—was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The study found that patients are more likely to routinely take inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for asthma control when physicians kept close watch over their medication use and reviewed detailed electronic prescription information, including how often patients fill their prescriptions and the estimated number of days each prescription would last.
“Better inhaled corticosteroid adherence means better overall asthma control, and less hospitalization,” says L. Keoki Williams, MD, MPH, lead study author from the Center for Health Services Research and Department of Internal Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “Unfortunately, overall patient adherence to ICS medication is poor, accounting for an estimated 60% of asthma hospitalizations. So it’s important, as we move forward with health care reform, to look for more effective ways to make sure patients stay with their prescription regimens.”
For the study, the researchers designed an intervention that would provide physicians information on the most recent national asthma guidelines and methods for discussing medication non-adherence with their patients. The intervention also offered physicians electronic access to patients’ medication prescription fill/refill information.
Researchers found ICS adherence to be similar among patients in the intervention group and in the control group—21.3% versus 23.3%. But adherence was significantly higher in the intervention group (35%) when the patient’s physician elected to view detailed adherence information via the ePrescribing application. Few physicians in the intervention group, however, accessed the detailed adherence information.
“Going forward, one of the obstacles will be finding time for physicians to review and discuss this information with patients in their typically busy practices,” says Williams.