New York Times, By TARA PARKER-POPE, June 20, 2011
Most people are well aware that companies compile credit scores on just about everyone. Now, one company is planning to rate how likely people are to take prescribed medication.
Nearly three in four Americans do not follow doctor's orders for taking prescription drugs, a problem that is associated with 125,000 patient deaths each year, according to the National Consumers League. One in three patients never even fills the prescription. Others forget to pick up their drugs from the pharmacy, skip doses, take their pills at the wrong time or take too much or too little. And even for those who follow recommendations at the start, some eventually stop taking the medication altogether.
But which patients are likely to take their prescription medications correctly and which ones are likely to deviate from the plan? FICO, a company whose credit score is widely used to assess the credit worthiness of millions of consumers, is planning to answer that question. It has developed a new FICO Medication Adherence Score that it says can predict which patients are at highest risk for skipping or incorrectly using prescription medications.
The FICO medication score is based on publicly available data, like home ownership and job status, and does not rely on a patient's medical history or financial information to predict whether he or she will take medication as directed. So, like a credit rating, it can be compiled without a person's knowledge or permission.
The score was created using data from a large pharmacy benefits manager that provided information for a random sample of nearly 600,000 anonymous patients with diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Using the data set, FICO was able to track the patterns of patients who filled and refilled prescriptions and those who didn't. The company used the data to identify the variables most associated with medication adherence and developed a risk score on a scale of 0 to 500.
[Gregory PS: refilling the prescriptions on schedule is NOT the same as taking them regularly, so it is not clear how much this new score measures actual taking of medicine]
Among the factors that influence medication adherence risk are job and home stability. People who have been in a job or home for only a short period of time are at higher risk of not taking their medications correctly. Social support is also a factor. People who live alone or are unmarried are more likely to skip medications or not fill prescriptions.
Age also influences this behavior. Young adults, particularly college students, are at high risk of not following doctor's orders. So are people over 80. People who don't own a car are at higher risk than those who do. Read more.