The Challenge of Medication Adherence
The five main responsibilities of a pharmacist are to dispense prescriptions, communicate with customers, ensure patient safety, counsel patients, and work with patients on general health.
Of these, one of the most common problems is medication adherence. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. Every patient is different, and so are their issues.
Here are some statistics about the nature of the problem:
- Roughly two-thirds of Americans take some form of prescription medication•Medication non-adherence leads to 125,000 preventable deaths each year
- It incurs about $300 billion in healthcare costs
- The risk of dying from medication non-adherence is about 10 times greater than dying of homicide; more than 30 times greater for a person over the age of 50
- One researcher found that every 10% improvement in medication adherence reduces healthcare costs by up to 29%
And if that wasn’t enough, up to 80 percent of patients drop out of their medication regimens. It’s a serious problem.It’s important to understand what causes non-adherence.
Here are several factors:
- Distrust of the medical professional
- Fear of side effects
- Absence of symptoms
- Lack of mental capacity, such as dementia) or visual acuity issues
How to Deal with the Problem
Here is a list of solutions. Which one(s)you choose will depend on your circumstances.
Educate patients on what to expect: All patients need to be educated on the type of meds they have, when to take them, what to expect as the medications take effect, and possible side-effects.
Nurture relationships with patients: Take the time to get to know your patients and address their needs. i.e. Fears, concerns, potential side-effects, etc.
Hold regular staff meetings: This is where you would discuss pharmacy patient issues.
Make use of available technologies: As an example, PrescribeWellness has a Patient Engagement Center, which, with a couple of clicks, can identify patients taking non-insulin diabetes, hypertension (RASA) and cholesterol (statins) that are non-adherent to their current therapy.
Other options are multi-med packaging systems (blister cards, strip-packs or med-boxes). Blister cards can be color-coded to signify a delivery week or can signify a certain type of drug contained within. Also recommended is the use of braille for patients with visual issues.
And for patients who want more control, help them configure their support tools, whether at the pharmacy –or at home.
In-home visits: A good practice is to perform periodic, scheduled visits with the patient to check on their well-being, perform therapies and administer medications if necessary.These visits also allow the visiting caregiver to take note of medication adherence, diversion or other action or habit of the patient and their surroundings.
Working with Caregivers: Ensure that if the patient has a caregiver, that the caregiver understands all issues to do with the medications. Schedule appointments Plan for upcoming prescription refills and have a team on hand to remind patients of appointments a day or two before they happen, as well as on the day of the event.
Synchronize medications: Make sure the medications are set for the same time each month. This creates consistency and trust on the part of the patient that their needs are being met.