Medication Synchronization Programs Improve Adherence To Cardiovascular Medications And Health Care Use

Health Aff (Millwood). 2018 Jan;37(1):125-133. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0881.


Medication synchronization programs based in pharmacies simplify the refill process by enabling patients to pick up all of their medications on a single visit. This can be especially important for improving medication adherence in patients with complex chronic diseases. We evaluated the impact of two synchronization programs on adherence, cardiovascular events, and resource use among Medicare beneficiaries treated between 2011 and 2014 for two or more chronic conditions-at least one of which was hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or diabetes. Among nearly 23,000 patients matched by propensity score, the mean proportion of days covered (a measure of medication adherence) for the control group of patients without a synchronization program was 0.84 compared to 0.87 for synchronized patients-a gain of 3 percentage points. Adherence improvement in synchronized versus control patients was three times greater in patients with low baseline adherence, compared to those with higher baseline adherence. Rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits and rates of outpatient visits were 9 percent and 3 percent lower in the synchronized group compared to the control group, respectively, while cardiovascular event rates were similar. Synchronization programs were associated with improved adherence for patients with cardiovascular disease, especially those with low baseline adherence.

Keywords: Adherence; Cardiovascular disease; Medicare; Medication synchronization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Community Pharmacy Services*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medication Therapy Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States


  • Cardiovascular Agents