People with asthma were more likely to adhere to a drug regimen when their clinician kept close watch over medication use and reviewed detailed electronic prescription information, such as refill frequency.

As L. Keoki Williams, MD, MPH, and co-investigators noted, many people with asthma do not use their inhaled corticosteroids (ICs) as directed, but interventions to improve compliance can be complex and not easily applied to large patient populations (J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 May 28, published online ahead of print). Researchers reported on the effect of supplying patient-adherence information to primary-care providers in a project involving 193 family practitioners, internists, and pediatricians and 2,698 asthma patients aged 5 to 56 years. Unlike the control providers, the intervention-arm practitioners could view updated IC adherence and other usage information using electronic-prescription software.

In the last three months of the study, IC adherence was significantly higher among patients of clinicians who viewed their detailed compliance information compared with control patients and intervention-arm patients whose providers did not view that data. Unfortunately, few clinicians in the intervention group accessed the compliance details.

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“While the finding of improved adherence in those patients whose physicians viewed the detailed adherence information is encouraging, this study underscores the importance of changing both patient and clinician behavior to improve asthma controller use,” observed the authors.