When Medication Adherence Becomes an Issue

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Medication adherence has become an increasingly important issue in healthcare. Patients who do not adhere to their medication schedules are costing insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and providers a lot of money.

 

Pharmaceutical companies lose business and providers are penalized for not achieving treatment outcomes, penalties that may cost them billions of dollars.

 

Here are some tips on how pharmacists can ensure their patients take their medicine.

 

Use medication therapy management programs.

In one such program, “medication coaches” visit patients in their homes, after identifying people who need extra help in taking their medication. The coach, who is usually a pharmacist or pharmacy technician, examines all of the medications the patient is taking and then talks with the person about the best way to ensure that they actually does take the drugs as scheduled. 

 

Give pharmacists more time to counsel patients.

Pharmacists are often juggling many different tasks, filling prescriptions, dealing with insurance issues and talking with physicians. All of this can take away from time they should be spending with patients.

 

To enable pharmacists to spend more time with patients, pharmacies need to develop a more efficient work flow. There are many different ways pharmacies have done this. For example, one way is to use prescription baskets that are color coded for priority. Another way is to group the tasks pharmacists do by function.

 

Make it easier for patients.

Many pharmacists now administer patients’ medication according to a schedule so people can get all of their drugs at the same time each month. Patients like the arrangement, and it appears to improve adherence – pharmacies that have adopted the system report a 30 percent increase in revenue from prescriptions.

 

Probe patient behavior.

Another way of increasing adherence is by talking with each patient individually about their medication routine and asking specific questions about that routine. For example, asking the patient how they remind themselves to take their medication, and how they would know if they missed a dose.

 

After analyzing a number of different strategies for adherence, researchers discovered that focusing on patient behavior appeared to produce the best results.

 

Determine why patients do not take their medication.

This approach focuses on the behavior of an individual patient, with the understanding that each person is different and the reason for not taking medication is individual as well. Those who advocate this approach argue that a blanket solution – one strategy used for everyone – will not work very well because of individual differences.

 

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