Electronic health records increase medication adherence among type 2 diabetics

For individuals with type 2 diabetes, it is extremely important to take all the medications they are prescribed by their doctor. However, due to the large number of prescriptions they may be on, it can become difficult to remember when to take which pills.

New evidence suggests that patients who are treated at integrated healthcare facilities that have an on-site pharmacy and use electronic health records may be more likely fill their prescription, helping to ensure that they will take their medications on schedule.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Colorado looked at the medical records of more than 12,000 individuals being treated by the healthcare organization for either diabetes or cardiovascular problems. The results showed that 11 percent of diabetic patients being treated at integrated facilities failed to pick up their prescriptions.

This may seem like a large number considering how important medication is to a person with type 2 diabetes, but the researchers pointed out that previous studies have shown the rate is much higher among patients being treated at traditional paper-based offices. In some cases, as much as 22 percent of patients may fail to pick up their prescriptions.

The researchers said their findings may provide an important window onto why some patients fail to pick up their medications, which could help doctors address high rates of medication non-compliance.

"Given that adherence to medications is directly associated with improved clinical outcomes, higher quality of life, and lower healthcare costs across many chronic conditions, it is important to examine why some people never start the medications their doctors prescribe," said Marsha Raebel, PharmD, the study's lead author.

Electronic health records could play an important role in helping more individuals with type 2 diabetes take all their medications as prescribed. The technology can enable physicians to see when patients have not picked up their prescriptions, allowing medical professionals to send reminders to individuals who are not following treatment instructions.

Due to the fact that controlling type 2 diabetes is all about managing blood sugar levels, medications that keep blood glucose in check are considered an important part of dealing with the condition.