Associations between adherence and outcomes among older, type 2 diabetes patients: evidence from a Medicare Supplemental database

Patient Prefer Adherence. 2016 Aug 16;10:1573-81. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S107543. eCollection 2016.


Objective: To examine the association between adherence to glucose-lowering agents and patient outcomes, including costs, acute-care resource utilization, and complications, in an older, type 2 diabetic population.

Data and methods: The study used Truven's Medicare Supplemental database from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014. Patients aged 65 years or older were included if they had at least two type 2 diabetes diagnoses and received a glucose-lowering agent from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. Multivariable analyses examined the relationships among 3-year patient outcomes and levels of adherence, proxied by the proportion of days covered. Outcomes included all-cause medical costs, diabetes-related medical costs, acute-care resource utilization, and acute complications.

Results: In this study (N=123,235), higher adherence was linked to reduced costs and improved health outcomes. For example, comparing an individual with adherence of proportion of days covered <20% to one with proportion of days covered ≥80% illustrates an average saving of $28,824 in total 3-year costs. Furthermore, a 1% increase in adherence among 1,000 patients was associated with all-cause savings of $65,464 over 3 years. The probability of a hospitalization, an emergency room (ER) visit, or an acute complication decreased monotonically as adherence levels got higher, as did the number of hospitalizations, ER visits, and days hospitalized (P<0.005).

Conclusion: Higher adherence was associated with substantially less need for acute care, as indicated by a lowered probability of hospitalization or ER use, a reduced risk of an acute complication, and a decreased number of hospitalizations, ER visits, and days hospitalized. Higher adherence was also generally associated with lower all-cause and diabetes-related total costs, despite higher drug costs. These lower total costs were driven by the diminished acute care and outpatient costs. Results suggest that higher glucose-lowering agent adherence is associated with significant benefits for payers and older patients with type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: complications; costs; proportion of days covered; resource utilization; retrospective study.