Automated calling service, meant to inspire asthmatics to review their prescriptions for inhaled corticosteroids (ICS)with their specialists , has just been tested by American scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in Portland, Oregon.
"The trial demonstrated a modest, but statistically significant, improvement in compliance," said Dr. William M. Vollmer, senior investigator at the centre, who led the trial.
"And even a small change in adherence can potentially produce a big public health benefit, especially when the disease is as prevalent as asthma," he added.
The 18-month-long trial involved approximately 8,600 members enrolled in the integrated health system in the Northwest United States and Hawaii.
The researchers revealed that the participants were randomised to usual care and to the phone calling system.
They observed that the calls increased estimated medication adherence two percent beyond the compliance of patients receiving usual care.
According to them, medication adherence rose four percent among those 60 years of age and older.
Dr. Vollmer revealed that future analyses would assess the intervention's impact on healthcare utilization and quality of life, as well as the cost-effectiveness of the automated calling system.
His team also hope to conduct a similar study on patients with cardiovascular disease, reminding them to refill three different medications.
In addition to phone message, the researchers are considering integrating e-mail messages into the automated outreach program.
Dr. Vollmer said: "We want to be able to tailor the messages to fit the patient's preferred communication style."
A presentation on the findings was made at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego.