Mail order prescriptions associated with fewer ER visits


A new study from Kaiser Permanente suggests
that diabetes patients who use mail order pharmacies instead of picking up their prescriptions in person have fewer trips to the emergency room.

The research is the first to examine safety concerns of patients who don't meet face-to-face with a pharmacist when receiving their prescriptions.

"Overall, we didn't see any safety concerns," Julie A. Schmittdiel, lead author and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research said in a press release. "For the vast majority of people, mail order pharmacy works well."

The study

Kaiser analyzed 17,217 adults with diabetes for the study, following them for three years. Patients under age 65 who used a mail order pharmacy, the research found, were significantly less likely to have emergency room visits (33.8 percent) for any cause than patients who picked up their prescriptions in person (40.2 percent).

Kaiser currently offers members two options: picking up prescriptions at a walk-in clinic, or ordering them online through the mail. Mail order copayments are often lower for prescriptions than they are at walk-in pharmacies, the study noted.

For patients who receive prescriptions in person, a pharmacist will verbally go over the safety measures associated with particular medications or drugs, while mail-order prescriptions may have this information printed on paper.

Improved care

This study is part of Kaiser's ongoing efforts to understand how mail order pharmacy services can improve patient outcomes. And while it didn't examine why mail order pharmacies are associated with fewer ER visits, the researchers said that factors like patient disabilities, time constraints or limited transportation would be helpful to study in the future.

The research is published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Source: Kaiser Permanente