Nudging heart patients to take statins leads to better outcomes

Washington: In a recent study it has been found that statins that is an effective medication for treating patients with heart disease is consumed by only six per cent. The study was discussed in the meeting, ‘2019 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.’

The study which was aimed for heart specialists from around the world found that simple nudges in the form of texts, emails, and phone calls, not only help patients fill that first statin prescription but also continue to help them take their medications over the long term.

Lead author Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute, said, “These nudges are helping individuals increase and maintain their adherence to their medications more than the standard approach of giving a patient a prescription with little follow-up.”

“Given what we know about statins improving long term outcomes for patients with heart disease, just reminding patients to take their medication can give them a much better chance of survival.”

Findings from the study, which are part of the ENCOURAGE trial, a randomized clinical trial on the improvement of medication adherence through the implementation of personal nudges.

To understand the study in detail, the researchers identified 186 adults from Intermountain Healthcare cardiovascular clinics who had a statin prescription and were also enrolled in Intermountain’s SelectHealth insurance.

Patients were randomized so that half of them received nudges about their statin prescriptions (personalized in format and message per patient), and half received standard control care.

Nudges were personalized using machine learning techniques based on the patient’s psychographic profile (e.g., their perspectives, impressions, and opinions about healthcare) and their health status and needs.

The analytic methods segmented patients into groups of individuals who had similar perspectives and needs. The content of each nudge, as well as the timing, frequency, and mode of contact, were precisely matched to the characteristics of each patient by study partner, CareCentra.

Researchers then tracked passively using medications claims data on how often patients filled and refilled their prescriptions to determine their proportion of days covered by statins.

Researchers found that patients who received nudges were more likely to take their medications and had a higher percentage of the proportion of days covered (80%), meaning that they had better adherence to their prescribed statins.

These kinds of reminders are becoming more important in healthcare, said Dr. Horne, as less treatment is happening inside a healthcare setting, and as the popularity of technologies, such as wearables and smartwatches, make these kinds of reminders possible.

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