Study: Mail-order works well for diabetes patients

December 2, 2013

Diabetes patients who received heart medications via mail-order were less likely to visit emergency rooms than those who received their prescriptions in person, according to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Diabetes patients who received heart medications via mail-order were less likely to visit emergency rooms than those who received their prescriptions in person, according to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care.

The study followed 17,217 Kaiser Permanente patients with diabetes who were initially prescribed heart medications in 2006. It found that patients under 65 who used mail-order had fewer emergency room (ER) visits than this those that didn’t (33.8% compared to 40.2%).

“Overall, we didn’t see any safety concerns,” said Julie A. Schmittdiel, PhD, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study’s lead author. “For the vast majority of people, mail-order pharmacy works well.”

Reportedly, the study is the first to examine mail-order pharmacy’s impact in patient safety and utilization.  It did not look at possible reasons why mail-order pharmacies were associated with fewer ER visits. Previous studies by Schmittdiel have shown that patients who use mail-order pharmacy have significantly better medication adherence and cholesterol management.

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Schmittdiel’s coauthors included Andrew J. Karter, PhD, and Wendy Dyer, MS, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research; James Chan, PharmD, PhD, pharmacy outcomes research group, Kaiser Permanente Northern California; and O. Kenrik Duru, MD, MSHS, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.