You wouldn't think simply popping a pill and taking a swallow of water, an act that probably takes 30 seconds, could wreak havoc on the medical system. But it does, or rather the act of not taking medication. Some people are forgetful, and a simple reminder to take their medicine is sufficient while others have a “stubborn streak” and the more you prod them to take their medication, the less likely they are to do it.
Because the reasons people don’t take their medicine are as varied as the people themselves, in order for patient engagement to work in boosting medication adherence, it has to be the right kind of engagement. In fact, not engaging in the right way is as bad as not engaging at all.
Moreover, if the engagement fails to stimulate medication adherence, the effects ripple out across the entire industry.
$100 - $300 billion is the cost of medication non-adherence, including fees from avoidable hospitalizations, nursing home admissions and other ancillary costs.
Of the above costs, $41 million of it are hefty, preventable readmission penalties assessed to hospitals.
125,000 – this is the most tragic figure, the number of deaths annually from medication non-adherence. Some estimate that it is even higher.
10% of hospital readmissions are related to medication non-adherence.
Patients do not even obtain around 25% of new prescriptions.
So what are some ways to use patient engagement to boost medication adherence? Here are a few worth examining:
1. SMART BOTTLES/CAPS:
The days of plastic pill bottles with childproof lids (that were often adult-proof too) are fading. More and more options are available, some which connect to wifi hubs, to make packaging multipurpose. Hospitals, patients and pharmacies can work together to embrace the growing number of “smart packaging” available to help patients remember to take their medication. These include caps with visual and auditory reminders and bottles which allow physicians and pharmacists to monitor patient dosage.
A study recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that mobile apps help to improve medication adherence, even for older adults who may lack experience with smartphones, computers or the internet. Some apps make the patients participants in their medication regimen while others are more passive in their role. Many of the top apps allow a patient to dig deeper, to look up information about medications, connect with a pharmacist, and in general build a better set of habits that set them on the road to medication adherence.
3. PERSONALIZED COMMUNICATION APPROACHES:
Communication platforms like PatiendBond integrate seamlessly into a patient’s life based on a tailored regimen according to the patient’s psychographic profile and their wishes. If a patient prefers a phone call reminding them to take their blood pressure medicine, then that is what they’ll get. According to a recent PatientBond market research study, 20% of Willful Endurers prefer that method for their blood pressure medicine regimen. If they prefer an email, that can also be done. 28% of Willful Endurers and 27% of Self Achievers like that approach, and those segments represent nearly half of the U.S. population. And ditto for text messages, which 24% percent of Balance Seekers prefer. PatientBond uses a patented psychographic segmentation model to let the patient choose the way that works best for them.
4. SUPPORT GROUPS:
Research has shown that the peer-to-peer power of support groups drives patients to make better wellness choices and boosts medication adherence. The thinking is that when someone joins a support group they are surrounding themselves with like-minded people sharing similar goals, and that ratchets up pressure (in a good way) for someone to follow up on a variety of lifestyle changes, including taking prescribed medication.
5. IMPROVING MEDICAL INFRASTRUCTURE:
Sometimes, someone has difficulty getting the medicine they need. Not everyone lives 5 minutes from a pharmacy, and not everyone is physically able to get inside one even if they do. So, patient engagement also includes practical ways that make the medication more accessible, like having volunteers from the local senior center making deliveries, having medicine delivered by mail or filling prescriptions with a pharmacy that delivers. These methods ensure that patients aren't non-adhering simply because they are physically unable.
The tools to encourage adherence have never been more plentiful. Even a slight uptick in the number of people adhering to their prescribed medication regimen can yield noticeable results in lives saved and savings banked.
For more information on how a platform like PatientBond can help your organization improve health outcomes, click here.