Introduction: Knowledge translation (KT) initiatives have the potential to improve prescribing quality and produce savings that exceed the cost of the KT program itself, including the cost of evaluation using pragmatic study methods. Our objective was to measure the impact and estimated savings resulting from the distribution of individualized physician portraits of statin prescribing along with therapeutic recommendations in British Columbia, Canada.
Methods: A paired community design was used to study 2 725 family physicians in British Columbia. Communities were paired according to number of physicians and geographic location, with one community of each pair randomly assigned to an early (n = 1 349) or delayed (n = 1 376) intervention group. The intervention was a personalized prescribing portrait on statins that included therapeutic recommendations. The primary outcome was the impact on new prescribing (defined as statin naive) for primary prevention (defined as no diagnosis of cardiovascular disease) as recorded in the administrative claims databases of the BC Ministry of Health.
Results: Compared to the delayed control group, the relative probability of a new statin prescription for primary prevention decreased by 6% in the 12 months after the Education for Quality Improvement in Patient Care (EQIP) portrait compared to the preceding 12 months (relative risk [RR] 0.94; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.91-0.98). There was also a non-statistically significant decrease in new prescribing for secondary prevention in patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.91-1.01). We estimated that 572 fewer patients started statins for primary prevention in the first year after the portrait was mailed compared to patients in the delayed practices. We estimated the statin cost for those patients as $465,000 in the first two years, while the KT program to provide statin portraits cost less than $100,000.
Discussion: The individualized prescribing portrait had a significant beneficial effect on new statin prescribing for primary prevention but not secondary prevention. Provincial drug plan costs appear to have been reduced to a level that exceeded the cost of the program.
Copyright © 2012 The Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on CME, Association for Hospital Medical Education.