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Automated Telephone Reminders: A Tool to Help Refill Medicines On Time

This easy to understand telephone script is provided for use by pharmacies wishing to provide automated refill reminder calls to patients to remind them to refill their prescriptions and allow patients to order the refill on the phone.

Developed under Contract No. 290-00-0011 for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Go to the Pharmacy Health Literacy Center for both technical assistance and information on related AHRQ tools.

Non-Adherence to Prescription Medications is a Documented Public Health Problem

  • Only 50-60 percent of patients are adherent in taking prescribed medicines over a one-year period.1-3
  • Non-adherence is particularly concerning in patient populations with a high prevalence of chronic conditions.
  • Medication non-adherence costs an estimated $100 billion annually in the United States and accounts for 10 percent of hospital admissions.3

Telephone Reminders to Refill or Pick Up Prescriptions Improve Medication Adherence4-6

  • Automated telephone reminder systems call patients to remind them to refill their prescriptions and allow patients to order the refill on the phone. However, these systems can be difficult for patients with limited health literacy to use.
  • This literacy-friendly telephone script is provided for use by pharmacies wishing to provide automated refill reminder calls to patients.
  • To deliver automated telephone reminder calls, your organization should work with a software vendor to develop a call flow process and implement the technology.

Automated Telephone Reminder Call Script

  • System places outgoing call.
  • Call answered (by person or answering machine).
  • "Hello. This is the ______ pharmacy calling. Our records show that a person at this telephone number is due for a prescription order refill. To refill this order,now, please press (1). Or you may call the pharmacy back later at _______________."
    • (1) is pressed to continue order:
  • "The prescription order is for a person at this telephone number who was born in the month of <October>. For security purposes, please enter the 2-digit birth day for this patient. For example, if the birth day is on the 2nd, please enter the numbers 0, 2 now."
  • Birth date is valid/correct:
    • Our records show that <x> prescriptions are due to be refilled. If you would like to refill all <x> prescriptions now, press (1). If you know the prescription numbers you want refilled and would rather enter them yourself, press (2).
      • (1) is pressed:
        • "Thank you. Your order is being processed. Please allow 48 hours to process your order, and be sure to go to the _________ pharmacy that is located at the address on each prescription label. If you have a question or would like to speak with someone in the pharmacy, please call _____________. Thank you, goodbye."
      • (2) is pressed:
        • "Using your touch-tone phone, please enter your <x> digit prescription number now."
        • "If you have another prescription number to enter, press (1). If you do not have another prescription number to enter, press (2)."
          • (1) is pressed:
            • "Using your touch-tone phone, please enter your <x> digit prescription number now."
          • (2) is pressed:
            • "Thank you. Your order is being processed. Please allow 48 hours to process your order, and be sure to go to the _________ pharmacy that is located at the address on each prescription label. If you have a question or would like to speak with someone in the pharmacy, please call _____________. Thank you, goodbye."
  • Birth date is not valid/correct:
    • "I'm sorry, the birth day you entered is not correct. If you would like to re-enter the birth day, press (1). If not, press (2)."
      • (2) is pressed:
        • "If you would like to speak with someone in the pharmacy, press (1). Or, please call the pharmacy back later at ____________."

Acknowledgments and Disclaimer

This guide was produced by The Pharmacy Intervention for Limited Literacy (PILL) Study Research Team under Contract No. 290-00-0011 T07 for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The investigators were Kara L. Jacobson, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.; Sunil Kripalani, M.D., M.Sc.; Julie A Gazmararian, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Karen J. McMorris, B.A. The AHRQ Task Order Officer for this project was Cindy Brach, M.P.P. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided funding for this guide. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program Officer was Pamela S. Dickson, M.B.A.

The findings and conclusions in this document are those of the authors, who are responsible for its contents; the findings and conclusions do not necessarily represent the views of AHRQ, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Therefore, no statement in this guide should be construed as an official position of AHRQ, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

 

1. Haynes RB, Taylor DW, Sackett DL, eds. Compliance in Health Care. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins; 1979.
2. McDonald HP, Garg AX, Haynes RB. Interventions to enhance patient adherence to medication prescriptions: scientific review. JAMA 2002;288:2868-79.
3. Vermeire E, Hearnshaw H, Van Royen P, Denekens J. Patient adherence to treatment: three decades of research. A comprehensive review. J Clin Pharm Ther 2003;26:331-42.
4. Ascione FJ, Brown GH, Kirking DM. Evaluation of a medication refill reminder system for a community pharmacy. Pt Educ & Couns Jun 1985;7(2):157-65.
5. KC, Kennedy DT, Holdford D, Small RE. Evaluation of patient adherence from a telephone intervention program in community pharmacy practice. Virginia Pharm 2000;84(Nov):23-27.
6. Simkins CV, Wenzloff NJ. Evaluation of a computerized reminder system in the enhancement of patient medication refill compliance. Drug Intell & Clin Pharm 1986;20(Oct):799-802. 

Page last reviewed February 2008
Internet Citation: Automated Telephone Reminders: A Tool to Help Refill Medicines On Time. February 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/tools/callscript/index.html