Medication Adherence and Compliance Solutions: Everything you should know about

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie is 68 years old and lives alone in Alaska. She is on medications because she was diagnosed with hypertension five years ago. Of late, she has been skipping her medication doses. Hence, her symptoms worsened, and she was taken to the ER. 

Even though Annie is just a hypothetical patient, millions of patients can relate to this story. Various research estimates reported that non-adherence to medications is one of the leading causes of high mortality rates in the US. Medication non-adherence causes 25% of hospitalizations, 50% of failures in treatment, and 125,000 deaths yearly, leading to overall health costs of $100 billion - $289 billion per year. 

Many like Annie can avoid such life-threatening complications if medications are taken on time, every time. So, what is medication adherence? Is it essential? And how can you ensure medication adherence? This article throws light on these areas by answering the above questions.

What is medication adherence?

Medication adherence and compliance are two alternate terms used to explain how patients take their medications as directed. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), patients are considered adherent to medications if they consume 80% of their prescribed medications. In that case, consuming less than 80% of medications shows that you are non-adherent to medications. 

Hence, the exact definition of medication adherence refers to the intake of medications 

  • At the right dose

  • On-time every time

  • For the prescribed time duration

Why do patients miss their medications?

There are multiple reasons for medication non-adherence:

  • The most common cause is the forgetfulness about the medication schedule or dosage instructions.

  • Next, it’s the cost of medications that tops the list. People with fewer wages cannot afford to buy medications. 

  • Another issue could be the lack of trust that the medications work for them and the occurrence of side effects. Especially for chronic conditions, medications may not give significant improvement immediately. Statin medication is the right example. People who consume statin medications can reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. However, the patient may not feel so. If they experience any side effects, it will become hard to keep them motivated to continue the medication consumption. 

  • Next, low literacy regarding medications or health information can also lead to medication non-adherence.

  • When symptoms start resolving, people stop taking their medications, thinking that their health issues got fixed. However, stopping medication intake abruptly can worsen your health condition. Hence, always make sure to finish prescriptions even if the symptoms start subsiding.

  • Last but not least, consuming five or more medications could lead to forgetfulness or fearfulness of side effects. As a result, patients are more likely to miss their medication regimen or take various medications at varied times of the day.

All these reasons for non-adherence to medications could surely put anyone at risk.

Why is medication adherence essential?

Being non-adherent to medications can lead to significant consequences such as:

  • Disease progression – Many diseases, especially chronic diseases, are progressive. In such cases, medications help to slow down this progression. If people miss their medications, they experience a swift disease progression from the initial stages to peak levels. According to adherence rates published in The Pharmaceutical Journal, 1 in 3 patients with a chronic medical condition do not consume a newly prescribed medicine.

  • Life-threatening complications – Diseases like chronic conditions can increase the risk of life-threatening complications if people repetitively miss their medication doses. For example, patients with hypertension may rush to the ER with organ damage due to high blood pressure from skipping their medications.

  • More hospital visits and ER visits – According to a research study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, non-adherence to medications leads to increased repeated hospital visits, ER visits, and avoidable healthcare costs. Another study also revealed that nearly 69% of hospital admissions are related to poor medication adherence.

How to improve medication adherence?

“If you want to make it, you’ve got to take it.”

-Skeptical Scalpel, MD

Medications work only if you consume them as directed. Fortunately, there is a medication adherence solution to help you take timely medications.

Have open communication with your doctor

First, make sure to communicate with your doctor about medication concerns. Be honest about why you are skipping the doses. If cost is the reason, your care provider might recommend an alternative that could be less costly. 

Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health recommends you:

  • List out the concerns so that you can clarify them during the visit

  • Learn to keep track of your health records

  • Have a family member or a caretaker with you while clarifying all your doubts and queries

  • In case you have any more follow-up questions, get in touch with the care provider 

  • Even nurses could be the right source for patient education 

Implement medication intake in your routine

Make sure to incorporate your medication regimen into your routine. If you find it challenging to remember to consume medications, use an alarm or mobile phone to set alerts for medication intake.

Can a digital solution help people overcome medication adherence?

Yes. Medication adherence solutions like Medhera can help people manage their medications intake by offering the following features: 

  • Pill box – The pill box helps to organize and track medications regularly

  • Reminder apps – Apps like Medhera are available on smartphones to remind patients and their caregivers to take medications on time, every time. 

  • Automated refills - Apps like Medhera offer predictive automatic refills so you won't miss the dose.

  • Multiple unit dose packs – Having multiple unit packs can help you organize the medications accurately for easy handling.

  • Automated pill dispenser – These devices help people with complex medication schedules to consume medications independently if they don’t have any caregiver assistance.

Final Thoughts

Adopting a user-friendly medication adherence program is essential for every patient to ensure they take their medications properly. To avoid unnecessary healthcare expenses, hospitalizations, and ER visits, invest in the medication adherence solution right away.

Partner with experienced medication adherence solution providers like Hifinite Health to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Schedule a free demo to learn how Hifinite’s Medhera helps to adhere to the medication regime.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6139792/ 

  2. https://edhub.ama-assn.org/steps-forward/module/2702595#:~:text=A%20patient%20is%20considered%20adherent,)%2C%20they%20are%20considered%20nonadherent.&text=How%20common%20is%20medication%20nonadherence,prescribed%20about%20half%20the%20time

  3. https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/third-of-patients-never-take-medicine-for-a-long-term-condition-say-researchers/20205405.article?firstPass=false 

  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24030129/ 

  5. https://www.nih.gov/institutes-nih/nih-office-director/office-communications-public-liaison/clear-communication/talking-your-doctor 

  6. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/medication-adherence-the-elephant-in-the-room 

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3234383/ 

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