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OAKLAND, Calif. — Diabetic users of an online patient portfolio for medication refills improved their adherence to cholesterol-lowering medications and improved their cholesterol levels, according to a new study.
Researchers at Kaiser Permanente and the University of California San Francisco Medical School followed 17,760 diabetic patients with an average age of 62 years who received care from Kaiser Permanente in northern California between the beginning of 2006 and the end of 2010. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published in the journal Medical Care.
All the patients were registered users of My Health Manager, Kaiser Permanente's personal health record and had been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications. The researchers divided them into three groups based on their use of the portal to order refills of the medications, including a control group that never used the online refill function; occasional users of it who requested refills at least once; and exclusive users who requested all their refills through the portal. Among the exclusive users, nonadherence and poorly controlled cholesterol declined by 6% among the exclusive users.
"Our study showed that when patients used online prescription refills, it can improve adherence and health outcomes," Kaiser Permanente Division of Research scientist Andrew Karter said, noting that adherence is among the 'hardest things for providers to influence.' "On top of those benefits, we know that online refill systems increase the efficiency of pharmacy operations and provide more convenience for patients."