VA Intervention Curbs PPI Use Among Veterans

A 2014 US Veterans Affairs Healthcare System intervention limited proton pump inhibitor (PPI) refills and canceled unused prescriptions, leading to a 7% decrease in PPI use among veterans. The one-year intervention aimed to optimize medication use and reduce unnecessary drug costs.

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Bijay Laxmi
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VA Intervention Curbs PPI Use Among Veterans

VA Intervention Curbs PPI Use Among Veterans

A 2014 intervention implemented by the US Veterans Affairs Healthcare System has led to a notable 7% decrease in the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) among veterans. The intervention, which aimed to limit PPI refills and cancel unused prescriptions, was carried out at one of the regional organizations within the VA system.

Why this matters: This study's findings have significant implications for healthcare systems beyond the VA, as it demonstrates the potential for targeted prescribing interventions to optimize medication use and reduce unnecessary drug costs. By replicating this approach, healthcare organizations can improve patient care and manage resources more effectively, ultimately leading to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare expenditures.

The one-year intervention, which took place in 2014, included limits on PPI refills for patients without indications for long-term use and cancellations of PPI prescriptions that patients hadn't filled within 6 months. Data analysis from 2009 to 2019 revealed a decrease in PPI use among veterans receiving primary care.

Interestingly, the decrease in PPI use was observed not only among patients who were inappropriately using PPIs but also among those who were using them appropriately to protect the gastrointestinal tract. However, there was no evidence of benefits or harms, such as changes in upper endoscopies or hospitalizations, among patients aged 65 years or older that were linked with decreased PPI use.

According to the researchers, the main value of efforts to curb PPI prescribing is "likely to be reduced pill burden for patients and reduced drug costs for health systems." The findings of this study were published online on May 10, 2024, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The VA intervention's success in reducing PPI use among veterans highlights the potential for targeted prescribing interventions to optimize medication use and reduce unnecessary drug costs within healthcare systems. As healthcare organizations continue to seek ways to improve patient care and manage resources effectively, the VA's approach may serve as a model for other institutions looking to address similar challenges.