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Impact Health Systems

Syncing Up Prescription Refill Timelines to Boost Adherence

using weekly pill containers help patients to adhere to medication schedules

Around 4 billion prescriptions are written in the United States each year, but evidence shows that fewer than half of patients take medications as prescribed. It’s difficult for many patients to remember to take their medication on a regular basis, and this is even more challenging for patients with multiple medications. Refills might come in at different times, which requires keeping track of multiple renewal dates for mail-order pharmacies or patients might need to visit several pharmacies to get the medication they need. How might the process of getting refills be made easier for patients?


Our researchers tested the effects of a refill synchronization program—in which patients received all prescription refills at the same time—on medication adherence. We found that this program increased medication adherence by an average of 3 to 5 percentage points compared to a control group. This program was particularly impactful for people with low rates of baseline medication adherence, as adherence improved by about 10 to 13 percentage points relative to controls. Based on the success of our study, Humana implemented a refill synchronization program for their members.

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