A Synchronized Prescription Refill Program Improved Medication Adherence

Health Aff (Millwood). 2016 Aug 1;35(8):1504-12. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1456.


Synchronizing medication refills-renewing all medications at the same time from the same pharmacy-is an increasingly popular strategy to improve adherence to medication regimens, but there has been little research regarding its effectiveness. In light of increasing policy interest, we evaluated the impact of a pilot refill synchronization program implemented by a large national insurer. A random sample of Medicare Advantage patients receiving mail-order refills for common maintenance medications (antihypertensive, lipid-lowering, or antidiabetic agents) were invited to join the program and followed for twelve months. On average, the absolute increase in the proportion of patients deemed adherent during follow-up was 3-10 percentage points for the intervention group, compared to 1-5 percentage points for the control group. Patients with poorer baseline adherence showed larger increases in the absolute proportion deemed adherent in intervention (23-26 percentage points) compared to a control group (13-15 percentage points). Synchronizing refills might be a promising intervention to improve adherence to maintenance medications, especially among Medicare patients with low baseline adherence.

Keywords: Chronic Care; Medicare; Medication Adherence; Medication synchronization; Pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare*
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Medication Therapy Management / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States