Purpose. Analysis of practice electronic medical records (EMRs) demonstrated widespread antihypertensive medication adherence problems in a Pacific-led general practice serving a predominantly Pacific (majority Samoan) caseload in suburban New Zealand. Adherence was quantified in terms of medication possession ratio (MPR, percent of days covered by medication supply) from the practice's prescribing data. We studied the effectiveness of general practice staff follow-up guided by EMR data to improve medication adherence.
Methods. A framework for identification of suboptimal long-term condition management from routinely-collected EMR data, the ChronoMedIt (Chronological Medical Audit) tool, was applied to data of two Pacific-led general practices to identify patients with low MPR. One practice undertook intervention, the other provided usual care. A cohort was based on MPR<80% for antihypertensive medication in a baseline 6-month period. At the intervention practice a team was established to provide reminders and motivation for these patients and discuss their specific needs for assistance to improve adherence for 12 months. MPR and systolic blood pressure (SBP) was collected at baseline and for last six months of intervention based on practice EMRs; national claims data provided assessment of MPR based on dispensing. Nursing notes were analysed, and patient and provider focus groups were conducted.
Results. Of the 252 intervention patients with MPR<80% initially, MPR improved 12.0% (p=0.0002) and systolic blood pressure was 3.5mmHg lower (p=0.07) as compared to the control cohort. MPR from national claims data improved by 11.5% (p=0.0001) as compared to the control. Patients welcomed the approach as caring and useful. Providers felt the approach worthy of wider deployment but that it required dedicated staffing.
Discussion and Conclusions. Systematic follow-up of patients with demonstrated poor medication possession appears effective in the context of a Pacific-led general practice serving a largely Pacific caseload. It was possible to exploit the EMR database to identify patients with low antihypertensive medication possession and to raise their level of medication possession significantly. The measured effect on systolic BP was only marginally significant, leaving open the question of the precise value of the intervention in terms of morbidity and mortality. The intervention was found to be feasible and was met with good acceptance from the intervention patients, who appreciated the concern reflected in the follow-up effort. The intervention practice is continuing use of ChronoMedIt to guide long-term condition management with extension to cholesterol and blood sugar.