The problem of poor medicaltion adherence is a well-recognized problem in the healthcare industry. Studies have shown that in the United States alone, poor medication adherence causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10% to 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions. This makes non-adherence to medications not only dangerous for patients, but also only of the most costly factors for the healthcare industry.
A Medscape article provides a strategy to deal with the issue of medication adherence using the acronym “SIMPLE” which breaks down into:
- “S” Simplifying Regimen Characteristics:
Many medical offices already implement this strategy. By simplifying a medication regimen or matching the medication regimen to the patient's activities of daily living, you can lessen the chance of medication non-adherence.
- “I” Imparting Appropriate Knowledge
Patients' understanding of their conditions and treatments is positively related to medication adherence. Medication adherence, satisfaction, recall and understanding are all related to the amount and type of information given by medical offices. Studies have shown that patients who understand the purpose of the prescription are twice more likely to fill it than those who do not understand the purpose.
- “M” Modifying Beliefs and Human Behavior
Some diagnoses and medical regimens are complex and require lifestyle modification. When this is the case it is worthwhile to address patients' beliefs, intentions, and ability to perform the actions required. This is because knowledge alone is not sufficient to enhance medication adherence in recommendations involving complex behavior change.
- “P” Patient Communication
Patient communication encompasses interventions ranging from sending voice, email or SMS text reminders, to involving patients' families in the dialogue. At least 50% of patients leave their medical offices not knowing what they have been told. This is an imperative part of improving medication adherence. Medical offices need to be communicating with patients from the time the appointment is made throughout the post-appointment follow-up.
In a review of 185 studies, no clear relationship between medication adherence and race, sex, educational experience, intelligence, marital status, occupational status, income, and ethnic or cultural background was found. It is important for medical offices to understand that medical adherence can be an issue for anyone and focus their efforts on ensuring all patients are adhering to medications.
It is imperative to measure and evaluate patient medication adherence in order to correct issues in adherence that are found. Self-reporting is the most practical and widely used tool. If asked simply and directly, patients can be very accurate in reporting whether they are adhering to their medications. Regular assessment of patient adherence by itself can lead to increased patient adherence.
Implementing a patient communication solution, such as Alert Solutions’ Patient Communication Suite can help provide greater patient communication, increasing the likelihood of medication adherence. By providing notifications, such as automated refill reminders and wellness reminders via patients preferred communication channels, medical offices can reduce medical non-adherence and increase their bottom line.
Learn how you can maximize patient communication through automated notifications and improve medical adherence in your medical practice today!