Consider this: Up to 30 percent of medications go unfilled.
That's an incredible weight on the healthcare system and people's health. Medication adherence is a crucial component of improving people's lives and health - medicines save lives. It goes without saying that a primary goal for the medical ecosystem needs to be improving medication adherence. So how can hospitals and physicians improve medication adherence in 2019? Let’s look at five proven ways:
TALK IS CHEAP – AND EFFECTIVE:
One simple, low-tech solution that often gets lost among the gadgetry and technology: talk to the patient. Find out what barriers are in place inhibiting their medication adherence. The patient may be experiencing side effects from it that makes it unpleasant or they may be forgetful. Once we do a deeper dive into the “why’s” then we can get to the “how to solves.” And sometimes just some good, old-fashioned face time is the best way to accomplish that. While technology is playing an increasing role in healthcare, there will always be room for human touch.
Talking to a patient during a visit or check up works well for some people and situations, but others may not have the time or the inclination to sit through a question and answer session - even with their doctor. Technology can help you reach patients where they are, and how they want to be reached.
PatientBond uses proven psychographic segmentation to uncover the motivations of why a patient may not be adhering to their prescription regimen and then uses that same psychographic intel to help design a custom communication just for that patient that works to improve health outcomes, patient engagement and patient activation.
For instance, some people would prefer their medication reminders and PCP or urgent care interaction to occur in their email inbox or via a phone call or text message. Self Achievers are statistically more likely than any other segment (with 95 percent confidence) to want an email medication reminder while Balance Seekers prefer a text according to the 2018 PatientBond market research survey. Patient engagement platforms like PatiendBond can seamlessly become a part of a person’s life, significantly increasing the odds that they’ll take their medication as prescribed. Click here for a demo where you can fill in your information and receive a sample real-time communications from PatiendBond reminding you to take medication.
All stakeholders need to be educated about the dangers and costs of non-medication adherence. This needs to be through intensive education campaigns at the PCP level, urgent care office, pharmacy, parents and schools. Losses to the healthcare system annually have been cited at $300 billion, but that number can seem very remote. More detailed research shows the annual non-adherence cost per person. Consider that the annual adjusted disease-specific economic cost of non-adherence per person ranged from $949 to $44,190 (in 2015 USD). Costs attributed to ‘all causes’ non-adherence ranged from $5,271 to $52,341.
That analysis brings the number a bit closer to home. But the real incentive for adherence should be obvious: improved quality of life for everyone. The simple act of taking a pill and swallowing a few sips of water can be the difference between life and death.
FINDING A SUPPORT GROUP:
Studies have consistently shown that peer support helps dramatically reinforce good behaviors. That’s why people have a “work-out buddy” or a “diet partner” to help keep one another accountable. And it’s also why people join running groups or motorcycle clubs or study together. There’s a “peer group policing” that naturally instills itself. So if your patient has bipolar depression or a heart ailment, encourage them to seek out a support group. There are such groups for almost every condition, and they work.
All the face time, technology, education and peer support in the world won’t move the needle on medication adherence much if the price remains of out of reach. A full 67 percent of non-adherent patients cite cost as a reason. This is a complicated, multi-layered, systemic problem, but physicians, hospitals and clinics need to help where they can. Write prescriptions for cheaper generics. Encourage patients to start a “prescription savings account,” steer patients towards social services programs and low-cost buyer’s clubs - anything that can shave the cost down.
Doctors want the best for their patients’ health, but a crushed bank account isn’t good for anyone’s health either. Physicians find themselves often crushed in the middle of two opposing forces, but if a patient cites price as an impediment, do everything you can to help bring down the cost.