Streamlined Teleprompts Promote Medication Adherence


Phrasing of pharmacy teleprompts could influence whether or not a patient adheres to prescribed treatments, a new study suggests.

Tweaking a pharmacy’s prerecorded telephone prompts could improve adherence rates, according to new research conducted by CVS Caremark’s Behavior Change Research Partnership (BCRP). Patients presented with a “clear and active choice” to select automatic prescription refills are twice as likely to sign up for the service, researchers found.

“The preliminary findings show that by making choices clear and by streamlining messages, consumers sign up at twice the rate of those who are passively presented opt-in choices,” said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. Dr. Brennan presented the findings Thursday, September 9, at a symposium of the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health.

The test of pharmacy teleprompts is part of a larger BCRP research initiative called “Active Choice,” which aims to optimize communication between pharmacies and patients in order to improve adherence. The project is currently investigating the effectiveness of Web-based sign-ins, in-bound customer calls to care centers, automated outbound telephone calls, and direct mail in encouraging patients to sign up for programs that promote adherence, such as automatic refills or generic substitution.

CVS Caremark, a Pharmacy Times strategic alliance partner, presented similar results in August to a communications symposium sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In that portion of the study, researchers used a Web-based automatic pop-up prompt that asked patients in clear, concise language whether they wanted to register for automatic refills. Patients were asked before their prescriptions were renewed, rather than after.

“If we reach out and present a decision to choose automatic refill in advance of renewing a prescription, they sign up at twice the rate of those who were passively presented an opt-in choice after receiving a prescription,” said Punam Anand Keller, PhD, MBA, a faculty member at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College and member of the BCRP.

Other members of BCRP include leading behavioral economists George Loewenstein, PhD, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and Kevin Volpp, PhD, MD, an associate professor of medicine and health care management at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and director of the Center for Health Incentives at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. The group will continue to collaborate on Active Choice and other projects to determine the factors that drive nonadherence, particularly among patients with chronic diseases.

“We are looking at this issue from all angles because it is well known that medication nonadherence is costing the health care system billions of dollars every year,” said Dr. Brennan.

For other articles in this issue, see:

  • Medicaid AMP Ruling a Victory for Patients, Pharmacists
  • Pediatricians Back Mandatory Flu Vaccines for Health Workers
  • Pharmacy Times iPad App Unveiled
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