Online Refills Help Patients Adhere to Meds

Patients from all racial and ethnic minority groups who got prescription refills through an online patient portal had better medication adherences, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. “Our findings are consistent with other studies that suggest providing tools for health care management, such as online refills, can help improve health behavior such as medication adherence,” said lead author Courtney Lyles, PhD, affiliate investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

According to a recent report by the National Institutes of Health, Americans with chronic conditions only take their medications as prescribed about 50% to 60% of the time. Poor adherence costs the health care system $100 billion to $300 billion each year, and results in about 125,000 deaths.

This study examined patients with diabetes from Kaiser Permanente Northern California who had been using My Health Manager. Patients who began consistently refilling their statin prescriptions online showed a 4% improvement in adherence. Those who used online refilling tended to be younger and were taking more recurring medications than those not refilling online. Also, they used the patient portal more frequently at the onset of the study. African-American portal users were less likely to use the online tool to refill their prescriptions, and all racial and ethnic minority groups had lower statin adherence compared to white patients at baseline. For more information,

Exchange Agents Struggle with Application Deadlines

™∞Covered California is reaching out to the California Association of Health Underwriters to get help entering information from thousands of paper applications submitted by Exchange-certified agents.

The online application process was discovered to have glitches when the Exchange opened for enrollment in October 1, 2013 so the exchange requested paper application forms as a short-term solution. Since October, agents have filled out the 32-page paper form for thousands of new health care consumers and submitted them to Covered California by fax and by mail.

Covered California is asking certified agents for help in entering the application data into to their online system. Until the data is entered online, health insurers are not able to notify new enrollments and provide a premium notice of payment due. For coverage to be effective as of January 1, 2014, consumers must send payments to their health insurers postmarked no later than December 31, 2013,

Agents throughout California are voicing serious concerns that there may not be enough hours in the day to enter the data in time to meet the December 23rd application deadline. “It takes over 90 minutes to enter the information from the application due to the slow exchange system,” said Bruce Benton of Genesis Financial & Insurance Services in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “To have to go back, at this late date, and key in the data from paper applications I have already submitted to Covered California is extremely challenging and will take several days to process. This is additional work on top of the Medi-Care open enrollment that is also happening right now along with the employer group plan renewals. I am working to midnight most every night right now just to keep up. This is a major issue,” he added.

“For most licensed agents, it is not an option to add to their overhead,” said Sam Smith, president of California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU). Smith has asked Covered California to offer relief from the legally mandated application cut-off date by insurers for the thousands of individuals who submitted paper applications. Patrick Burns, CEO of Burns Employee Benefits Insurance Services, LLC in Oakland said, “This is going to push agents to the wall, but we are all in this together and we want to find the best possible solutions to work it through to best serve our clients.”

Online Doctor Visits

Anthem Blue Cross members will soon be able to choose a doctor and address their health issues live via two-way video at livehealthonline.com. LiveHealth Online will launch in the first quarter of 2013 initially to small and large-group fully insured customers and self-funded national employers. Doctors will offer live consultations from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily. Members will be able to initiate online meetings via live audio/video and secure chat. Patients use online care typically to communicate with a doctor about colds, aches, sore throats, allergies, infections as well as wellness and nutrition advice. A complete record of each encounter is created, which can be forwarded to their primary care doctor with the patient’s permission. E-visits using e-mail and electronic patient health records had similar outcomes to in-person visits for treating sinus and urinary tract infections, according to a November 2012 study from the University of Pittsburgh published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Last Updated 08/10/2022

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