A new Kaiser Permanente study has revealed a way to help increase prescription adherence among people taking medications for serious chronic conditions: integrated health care delivery systems.

Published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study involved 12,061 people who had just been prescribed medicine for diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Everyone in the study was part of the Kaiser Permanente Colorado health care network, a system where doctor's offices are linked to, and share electronic records with pharmacies.

Neglecting to follow a prescribed medication regimen can lead to serious and unnecessary health complications in the elderly. With rates of non-adherence leveling out at around 22% among people in non-integrated networks, the Kaiser researchers were hoping to see this number decline with the introduction of a more unified system.


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This is exactly what they saw in the study. Only 13% of cholesterol medications were left unfilled. This number of ignored prescriptions declined even further for both diabetes prescriptions (11%) and blood pressure medication (7%).

For the elderly, prescription non-adherence can also arise due to other factors, including; cognitive impairment and lack of money to buy medications.