BACKGROUND:: Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) is recognized as a potentially curative treatment for atrial fibrillation (AF). Ablation of complex fractionated atrial electrograms (CFAEs) in addition to PVI has been advocated as a means to improve procedural outcomes, but the benefit remains unclear. OBJECTIVE:: To synthesize the available data testing the incremental benefit of adding CFAE ablation to PVI. METHODS:: We performed a meta-analysis of controlled studies comparing the effect of PVI with CFAE ablation versus PVI alone in patients with paroxysmal and nonparoxysmal AF. RESULTS:: Of the 481 reports identified, 8 studies met our inclusion criteria. There was a statistically significant increase in freedom from atrial tachyarrhythmia (AT) with the addition of CFAE ablation (RR 1.15, p=0.03). In the 5 reports of nonparoxsymal AF (3 randomized controlled trials, one controlled clinical trial, and one trial using matched historical controls), addition of CFAE ablation resulted in a statistically significant increase in freedom from AT (n=112/181 [62%] for PVI+CFAE versus n=84/179 [47%] for PVI alone; RR 1.32, p=0.02). In trials of paroxysmal AF (3 randomized controlled trials and one trial using matched historical controls), addition of CFAE ablation did not result in a statistically significant increase in freedom from AT (n=131/166 [79%] for PVI+CFAE versus n=122/164 [74%] for PVI alone; RR 1.04, p=0.52). CONCLUSIONS:: In these studies of patients with nonparoxysmal AF, addition of CFAE ablation to PVI results in greater improvement in freedom from AF. No additional benefit of this combined approach was observed in patients with paroxysmal AF.
Low levels of statin adherence have been documented in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), but whether coronary revascularization is associated with improved adherence rates has yet to be evaluated. We identified all Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in 2 statewide pharmacy assistance programs who were >/=65 years old, who had been hospitalized for CAD from 1995 through 2004, and who had been prescribed statin therapy within 90 days of discharge (n = 13,130). Statin adherence was measured based on the proportion of days covered with statin therapy after hospital discharge, and full adherence was defined as proportion of days covered >/=80%. Statin adherence was compared in patients with CAD treated with medical therapy (n = 3,714), percutaneous coronary intervention (n = 6,309), or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (n = 3,107). Statin adherence significantly increased over the period of the study from 70.5% to 75.4% (p <0.0001). After hospitalization for CAD, patients treated with percutaneous coronary intervention and coronary artery bypass graft surgery had full adherence rates of 70.6% and 70.2%, respectively. Full adherence rates were significantly lower for patients treated with coronary revascularization compared to patients treated with medical therapy (79.4%, p <0.0001). Independent predictors of higher statin adherence included treatment with medical therapy, later year of hospital admission, white race, previous statin use, and use of other cardiac medications after CAD hospitalization (p <0.01 for all comparisons). In conclusion, in patients receiving invasive coronary treatment, statin adherence remains suboptimal, despite strong evidence supporting their use. Given the health and economic consequences of nonadherence, these findings highlight the need for developing cost-effective strategies to improve medication adherence after coronary revascularization.
BACKGROUND: All US states have adopted generic substitution laws to reduce medication costs. However, physicians may override these regulations by prescribing branded drugs and requesting that they are dispensed as written. Patients also can make these requests. Little is known about the frequency and correlates of dispense as written requests or their association with medication filling. METHODS: We identified beneficiaries of a large pharmacy benefits manager who submitted a prescription claim from any pharmacy in January 2009. We categorized claims as a physician-assigned dispense as written, patient-assigned dispense as written, or no dispense as written. We described rates of these requests and used generalized estimating equations to evaluate physician, patient, treatment, and pharmacy characteristics associated with dispense as written requests. We also used generalized estimating equations to assess the relationship between dispense as written designation and rates prescriptions are not filled by patients. RESULTS: Our sample included 5.6 million prescriptions for more than 2 million patients. More than 2.7% were designated as dispense as written by physicians, and 2.0% were designated as dispense as written by patients. Substantial variation in dispense as written requests were seen by medication class, patient and physician age, and geographic region. The odds of requesting dispense as written was 78.5% greater for specialists than generalists (P<;.001). When chronic prescriptions were initiated, physician dispense as written (odds ratio 1.50, P<;.001) and patient dispense as written (odds ratio 1.60, P<;.001) were associated with greater odds that patients did not fill the prescription. CONCLUSION: Dispense as written requests were common and associated with decreased rates of prescription filling. Options to reduce rates of dispense as written requests may reduce costs and improve medication adherence.
BACKGROUND: Several disease-specific information exchanges now exist on Facebook and other online social networking sites. These new sources of knowledge, support, and engagement have become important for patients living with chronic disease, yet the quality and content of the information provided in these digital arenas are poorly understood. OBJECTIVE: To qualitatively evaluate the content of communication in Facebook communities dedicated to diabetes. DESIGN: We identified the 15 largest Facebook groups focused on diabetes management. For each group, we downloaded the 15 most recent "wall posts" and the 15 most recent discussion topics from the 10 largest groups. PATIENTS: Four hundred eighty unique users were identified in a series of 690 comments from wall posts and discussion topics. MAIN MEASURES: Posts were abstracted and aggregated into a database. Two investigators evaluated the posts, developed a thematic coding scheme, and applied codes to the data. KEY RESULTS: Patients with diabetes, family members, and their friends use Facebook to share personal clinical information, to request disease-specific guidance and feedback, and to receive emotional support. Approximately two-thirds of posts included unsolicited sharing of diabetes management strategies, over 13% of posts provided specific feedback to information requested by other users, and almost 29% of posts featured an effort by the poster to provide emotional support to others as members of a community. Approximately 27% of posts featured some type of promotional activity, generally presented as testimonials advertising non-FDA approved, "natural" products. Clinically inaccurate recommendations were infrequent, but were usually associated with promotion of a specific product or service. Thirteen percent of posts contained requests for personal information from Facebook participants. CONCLUSIONS: Facebook provides a forum for reporting personal experiences, asking questions, and receiving direct feedback for people living with diabetes. However, promotional activity and personal data collection are also common, with no accountability or checks for authenticity.
BACKGROUND: With constrained health-care resources, there is a need to understand barriers to cost-effective medication use. OBJECTIVE: To study physician perceptions about generic medications. METHODS: Physicians used 5-point Likert scales to report perceptions about cost-related medication nonadherence, the efficacy and quality of generic medications, preferences for generic use, and the implications of dispensing medication samples. Descriptive statistics were used to assess physician perceptions and logistic regression models were used to evaluate predictors of physician perceptions. RESULTS: Among the invited sample, 839 (30.4%) responded and 506 (18.3%) were eligible and included in the final study population. Over 23% of physicians surveyed expressed negative perceptions about efficacy of generic drugs, almost 50% reported negative perceptions about quality of generic medications, and more than one quarter do not prefer to use generics as first-line medications for themselves or for their family. Physicians over the age of 55 years were 3.3 times more likely to report negative perceptions about generic quality, 5.8 times more likely to report that they would not use generics themselves, and 7.5 times more likely to state that they would not recommend generics for family members (p < 0.05 for all). Physicians reported that pharmaceutical company representatives are the most common (75%) source of information about market entry of a generic medication. Almost half of the respondents expressed concern that free samples may adversely affect subsequent affordability, yet two thirds of respondents provide free samples. CONCLUSIONS: A meaningful proportion of physicians expressed negative perceptions about generic medications, representing a potential barrier to generic use. Payors and policymakers trying to encourage generic use may consider educational campaigns targeting older physicians.
High copayments for medical services can cause patients to underuse essential therapies. Value-based health insurance design attempts to address this problem by explicitly linking cost sharing and value. Copayments are set at low levels for high-value services. The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans demonstrates that value-based insurance design use is increasing and that 81 percent of large employers plan to offer it in the near future. Despite this increase, few studies have adequately evaluated its ability to improve quality and reduce health spending. Maximizing the benefits of value-based insurance design will require mechanisms to target appropriate copayment reductions, offset short-run cost outlays, and expand its use to other health services.
To date, there has been little empirical evidence to support the broader use of value-based insurance design, which lowers copayments for services with high value relative to their costs. To address this lack of data, we evaluated the impact of the value-based insurance program of a US corporation, Pitney Bowes. The program eliminated copayments for cholesterol-lowering statins and reduced them for clopidogrel, a blood clot inhibitor. We found that the policy was associated with an immediate 2.8 percent increase in adherence to statins relative to controls, which was maintained for the subsequent year. For clopidogrel, the policy was associated with an immediate stabilizing of the adherence rate and a four-percentage-point difference between intervention and control subjects a year later. Our study thus provides an empirical basis for the use of this approach to improve the quality of health care.
BACKGROUND: Picking up prescriptions is an essential but previously unstudied component of adherence for patients who use retail pharmacies. Understanding the epidemiology and correlates of prescription abandonment may have an important effect on health care quality. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the rates and correlates of prescription abandonment. DESIGN: Cross-sectional cohort study. SETTING: One large retail pharmacy chain and one large pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) in the United States. MEASUREMENTS: Prescriptions bottled at the retail pharmacy chain between 1 July 2008 and 30 September 2008 by patients insured by the PBM were identified. Pharmacy data were used to identify medications that were bottled and either dispensed or returned to stock (RTS) or abandoned. Data from the PBM were used to identify previous or subsequent dispensing at any pharmacy. The first (index) prescription in a class for each patient was assigned to 1 of 3 mutually exclusive outcomes: filled, RTS, or RTS with fill (in the 30 days after abandonment, the patient purchased a prescription for a medication in the same medication class at any pharmacy). Outcome rates were assessed by drug class, and generalized estimating equations were used to assess patient, neighborhood, insurance, and prescription characteristics associated with abandonment. RESULTS: 10 349 139 index prescriptions were filled by 5 249 380 patients. Overall, 3.27% of index prescriptions were abandoned; 1.77% were RTS and 1.50% were RTS with fill. Patients were least likely to abandon opiate prescriptions. Prescriptions with copayments of $40 to $50 and prescriptions costing more than $50 were 3.40 times and 4.68 times more likely, respectively, to be abandoned than prescriptions with no copayment (P < 0.001 for both comparisons). New users of medications had a 2.74 times greater probability of abandonment than prevalent users (P < 0.001), and prescriptions delivered electronically were 1.64 times more likely to be abandoned than those that were not electronic (P < 0.001). LIMITATION: The study included mainly insured patients and analyzed data collected during the summer months only. CONCLUSION: Although prescription abandonment represents a small component of medication nonadherence, the correlates to abandonment highlight important opportunities to intervene and thereby improve medication taking. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: CVS Caremark.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of healthcare information technology (HIT) interventions in improving adherence. STUDY DESIGN: Systematic search of randomized controlled trials of HIT interventions to improve medication adherence in cardiovascular disease or diabetes. METHODS: Interventions were classified as 1-way patient reminder systems, 2-way interactive systems, and systems to enhance patient-provider interaction. Studies were subclassified into those with and without real-time provider feedback. Cohen's d effect sizes were calculated to assess each intervention's magnitude of effectiveness. RESULTS: We identified 7190 articles, only 13 of which met inclusion criteria. The majority of included studies (54%, 7 studies) showed a very small ES. The effect size was small in 15%, large in 8%, and was not amenable to calculation in the remainder. Reminder systems were consistently effective, showing the largest effect sizes in this review. Education/counseling HIT systems were less successful, as was the addition of realtime adherence feedback to healthcare providers. Interactive systems were rudimentary and not integrated into electronic health records; they exhibited very small effect sizes. Studies aiming to improve patient-provider communication also had very small effect sizes. CONCLUSIONS: There is a paucity of data about HIT's efficacy in improving adherence to medications for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, although simple patient reminder systems appear effective. Future studies should focus on more sophisticated interactive interventions that expand the functionality and capabilities of HIT and better engage patients in care.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the optimal modes of delivery for interventions to improve adherence to cardiovascular medications. STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review. METHODS: We conducted systematic searches of English-language, peer-reviewed publications in MEDLINE and EMBASE, 1966 through December 31, 2008. We selected randomized controlled trials of interventions to improve adherence to medications for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Articles were classified based on mode of delivery of the main intervention as (1) person-independent interventions (mailed, faxed, or hand distributed; or delivered via electronic interface) or (2) person-dependent interventions (nonautomated phone calls, in-person interventions). RESULTS: We identified 6550 articles. Of these, 168 were reviewed in full and 51 met inclusion criteria. Among person-independent interventions (56% successful), electronic interventions were most successful (67%). Among person-dependent interventions (52% successful), phone calls showed low success rates (38%). In-person interventions at hospital discharge were more effective (67%) than clinic interventions (47%). In-person pharmacist interventions were effective when held in a pharmacy (83% successful), but were less effective in clinics (38%). CONCLUSIONS: Future medication adherence studies should explore new electronic approaches and in-person interventions at the site of medication distribution. Identifying times of increased patient receptivity to the adherence message such as hospital discharge also will be important.
Mounting evidence suggests that statins possess antiarrhythmic properties and inhibit atrial fibrillation (AF). The goal of this study was to evaluate the relation between statin use and new-onset AF in a large cohort of patients with coronary artery disease. We identified all Medicare beneficiaries > or =65 years old who had been hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization from 1995 to 2004 and participated in 1 of 2 government-sponsored medication benefit programs. Patients with a history of AF before and during hospitalization were excluded. This yielded a cohort of 29,088. The incidence of new AF was compared between patients who were (n = 8,450) and were not (n = 20,638) prescribed statins within 1 month of hospital discharge after their cardiac event. New-onset AFs within 5 and 10 years were 32.6% and 51.2%, respectively, in patients who received statins compared to 38.3% and 58.0% in patients who did not receive statins (unadjusted hazard ratio 0.82, 95% confidence interval 0.78 to 0.86). Multivariable analysis controlling for demographic and clinical confounders indicated that statin use independently decreased the risk of developing new-onset AF compared to nonusers (adjusted hazard ratio 0.90, 95% confidence interval 0.85 to 0.94). Adjustment for propensity-score and health-seeking behaviors yielded nearly identical results. In conclusion, statin therapy initiated within 1 month after hospital discharge is independently associated with a decrease in the risk of new-onset AF after myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization. These findings lend support to the antiarrhythmic effects of statins and suggest another benefit for their use in patients with coronary artery disease.
BACKGROUND:: Although many patient, physician, and payment predictors of adherence have been described, knowledge of their relative strength and overall ability to explain adherence is limited. OBJECTIVES:: To measure the contributions of patient, physician, and payment predictors in explaining adherence to statins. RESEARCH DESIGN:: Retrospective cohort study using administrative data. SUBJECTS:: A total of 14,257 patients insured by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey who were newly prescribed a statin cholesterol-lowering medication. MEASURES:: Adherence to statin medication was measured during the year after the initial prescription, based on proportion of days covered. The impact of patient, physician, and payment predictors of adherence were evaluated using multivariate logistic regression. The explanatory power of these models was evaluated with C statistics, a measure of the goodness of fit. RESULTS:: Overall, 36.4% of patients were fully adherent. Older patient age, male gender, lower neighborhood percent black composition, higher median income, and fewer number of emergency department visits were significant patient predictors of adherence. Having a statin prescribed by a cardiologist, a patient's primary care physician, or a US medical graduate were significant physician predictors of adherence. Lower copayments also predicted adherence. All of our models had low explanatory power. Multivariate models including patient covariates only had greater explanatory power (C = 0.613) than models with physician variables only (C = 0.566) or copayments only (C = 0.543). A fully specified model had only slightly more explanatory power (C = 0.633) than the model with patient characteristics alone. CONCLUSIONS:: Despite relatively comprehensive claims data on patients, physicians, and out-of-pocket costs, our overall ability to explain adherence remains poor. Administrative data likely do not capture many complex mechanisms underlying adherence.
BACKGROUND: Medications for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease save lives but adherence is often inadequate. The optimal role for physicians in improving adherence remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: Using existing evidence, we set the goal of evaluating the physician's role in improving medication adherence. DESIGN: We conducted systematic searches of English-language peer-reviewed publications in MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1966 through 12/31/2008. SUBJECTS AND INTERVENTIONS: We selected randomized controlled trials of interventions to improve adherence to medications used for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease or diabetes. MAIN MEASURES: Articles were classified as either (1) physician "active"-a physician participated in designing or implementing the intervention; (2) physician "passive"-physicians treating intervention group patients received patient adherence information while physicians treating controls did not; or (3) physicians noninvolved. We also identified studies in which healthcare professionals helped deliver the intervention. We did a meta-analysis of the studies involving healthcare professionals to determine aggregate Cohen's D effect sizes (ES). KEY RESULTS: We identified 6,550 articles; 168 were reviewed in full, 82 met inclusion criteria. The majority of all studies (88.9%) showed improved adherence. Physician noninvolved studies were more likely (35.0% of studies) to show a medium or large effect on adherence compared to physician-involved studies (31.3%). Among interventions requiring a healthcare professional, physician-noninvolved interventions were more effective (ES 0.47; 95% CI 0.38-0.56) than physician-involved interventions (ES 0.25; 95% CI 0.21-0.29; p < 0.001). Among physician-involved interventions, physician-passive interventions were marginally more effective (ES 0.29; 95% CI 0.22-0.36) than physician-active interventions (ES 0.23; 95% CI 0.17-0.28; p = 0.2). CONCLUSIONS: Adherence interventions utilizing non-physician healthcare professionals are effective in improving cardiovascular medication adherence, but further study is needed to identify the optimal role for physicians.