Patients have immense power when it comes to their health outcomes. Namely, their health and wellbeing are directly related to how well they adhere to the care plan prescribed by their physician or clinical care team. This plan may include taking their prescriptions, doing therapy, receiving routine tests, attending follow-up visits and reaching certain milestones.
Many patients, though, don’t understand or don’t care about this power—and there are several reasons why.
Patients Need to Be Empowered
A 2012 review published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that roughly 125,000 Americans die annually because of non-adherence to prescribed medications. Likewise, up to 30 percent of prescriptions for chronic health conditions are never filled, and 50 percent aren’t taken as directed. Whether this noncompliance is caused by apathy, prohibitive cost or a lack of understanding, many patients don’t heed their doctors’ advice.
Treatment extends beyond medication, though—and about half of all U.S. patients do not fully adhere to their prescribed care plan. They might skip therapy or stop doing their exercises at home, or they could avoid lifestyle changes like working out and eating healthy. Patients may also skip follow-up visits or routine screenings.
There are many reasons why a patient may not adhere to their treatment plan. For example, they might not be able to get time off work, secure child care or have access to transportation. Similarly, they might not understand how another test could help their situation or can’t afford a new medication, even with insurance. Some patients also miss follow-up appointments because they didn’t receive enough reminders or because those reminders weren’t relevant to them.
It’s important to remember that noncompliance is detrimental both to patients and the healthcare system, costing the U.S. anywhere from $100 billion to $300 billion every year. Non-adherence can also lead to readmissions, as patients either become sicker or relapse because they haven’t taken their medication, gone to therapy or otherwise followed their treatment plan. If patients comply with their care plan, providers can reduce readmission rates, which, in turn, drives revenue.
But, how exactly do you convince patients to heed their physician’s recommendations? Empower them by demonstrating how to follow their care plan in a way they’ll understand.
How to Improve Patient Compliance
Not all patients respond well to emails, phone calls or whatever general reminders you might be currently sending. Similarly, not all patients will engage with the same messaging. By taking the time to personalize all communications, you increase the likelihood that patients will hear and respond to the messages you send.
Psychographic segmentation — a proprietary model that categorizes consumers based on their values, lifestyle and preferences — can help you understand what makes your patients tick, so you can more effectively motivate them to complete their care.
According to the 2018 PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, a nationally-representative study on healthcare consumers in the United States, not all segments want to receive reminders for preventive health screenings in the same way. Willful Endurers, for example, are significantly less likely to want to receive information via text message and more likely to prefer a printed brochure. Balance Seekers, on the other hand, were more likely to prefer to receive information reminders via email, followed by text message or print mail.
By sending the right message, at the right time, via the right channels, you reduce the chances of a communication disconnect and increase the likelihood of compliance.
The current widespread lack of patient compliance is problematic for many reasons. Patients aren’t receiving the help they need, and healthcare providers are losing reimbursement money. By using psychographic segmentation and PatientBond’s digital engagement platform, you can connect with patients in more meaningful ways and encourage adherence.
For more on health outcomes and psychographic segmentation model, download our case study.