Best Ways to Deal With Noncompliant Patients

Mark Crane, BA

Disclosures

June 05, 2009

In This Article

Technology Can Help Promote Patient Compliance

Type the words "patient compliance" into Google and you'll get 3.7 million hits, mostly from vendors eager to sell you programs to encourage patient compliance. Some of them can be helpful.

The solutions take the form of patient education, reminders, and ongoing monitoring, including call centers, email reminder programs, computer programs, high-tech packaging, and other tools to remind patients of dosages and refills.

As electronic health records and e-prescribing grow, these technologies help physicians and health plans determine whether patients are taking their medications. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, for example, is working with Merck & Co., Inc. to send text messages to physicians, informing them of patients not filling their prescriptions. Another program, supported by Pfizer Inc., provides automatic voice mail reminders to patients, replacing mailed notices.

Electronic alerts have proven helpful and effective in encouraging patients to get screening and treatment for dyslipidemia. A report published in the January 2008 issue of Circulation described a randomized controlled trial in which investigators from The Netherlands found that 65% of patients who received electronic alerts were screened vs 35% of patients who had inquired by themselves.[1]

Numerous new high-tech devices can help patients remember when to take their pills. Some offer subscribers a reminder service via a pager or other wireless device. MedivoxRx Technologies Inc., in Pittsford, New York, has a talking pill vial that reminds blind, visually impaired, and illiterate patients to take their medicines.

The Med-eMonitor System, developed by Rockville, Maryland-based InforMedix, Inc., combines compliance and disease management on the basis of the patient's care plan. The system includes a portable drug storage device that uses chimes to prompt the patient to take the medicine. It also asks patients whether they have taken the meds, monitors their health status by asking other questions, and records the time and date of all interactions.

The system automatically uploads the patients' information to a central database. If there is cause for concern, it triggers an outbound email, page, or cell phone text message sent to the patient's physician.

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