Improving medication compliance has been a focus for the US healthcare system for many years now. While pharmaceutical tools have improved and health outcomes have increased over time, many of us still struggle to stick with our prescription medication schedule.
With the incidence of chronic disease growing, poor medication compliance presents us with several challenges. For the health industry, it equates to ballooning costs and growing pressure on the system. For governments, it represents a ticking time bomb with future ramifications. For the economy, it means fewer healthy workers and more labor costs.
But, it’s individuals that will carry the hardest burden, as their worsening chronic conditions result in a reduced quality of life, growing health expenses, and a greater chance of entering into poverty.
The current state of medication compliance in the US
Currently, 60% of all Americans live with at least one chronic condition, while 40% are managing two or more. As a result, nearly 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, with nearly half of the population taking two.
According to the CDC, approximately one in five new prescriptions are never filled. While medication compliance is vital for better health and more positive outcomes, the reality is that up to 50% of all patients don’t take their medication as prescribed (e.g. timing, dosage, frequency, and duration).
Non-adherence seems to be driven by various factors including fear, cost, inaccessibility, forgetfulness, embarrassment, the belief they don’t need to take medication at all or having unanswered questions about the medication.
The result? The worsening of preventable health issues, shorter lifespans, decreased quality of life and, in some cases, death. With non-adherence to medication responsible for up to 69% of all medication-related hospital admissions, poor medication compliance costs the US $528 billion annually.
Why increased medication compliance matters
As we’ve already shared, the ongoing costs associated with managing chronic health conditions in America is staggering. Chronic disease costs the country $3.7 trillion each year, made up of direct costs (hospitalizations, emergency room visits, etc.,) and indirect expenses (lost income, reduced productivity, etc.,).
Given these growing costs, it’s not surprising that chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability across the US. However, what might be surprising is the fact that, despite the doom and gloom, many of these deaths and poor health outcomes are preventable.
These costs can’t be carried by governments and the economy forever. More importantly, it’s unfair for individuals to continue to be disadvantaged by preventable conditions that could be easily managed with access to the right medication and care.
How to increase rates of medication compliance
There is no silver bullet to increase medication compliance. However, there are several strategies that have been shown to help patients take better control of their health and lead to improved outcomes.
- Pillboxes and blister packs - packaging medications to make it easier to keep on top of frequency and dosage.
- Electronic pill monitors - reminding patients when medication is due and reporting back to health professionals for follow up.
- Coordinated care - using a team-based approach to communicate with patients to monitor drug usage.
- E-scripts - issuing e-scripts makes it easier for patients to fill prescriptions and can remind them when a refill is due.
- Mail-order pharmacy services - prescribing physicians can send e-scripts straight to a pharmacy for quick fulfillment and home delivery.
One simple solution to help you boost compliance
Circling back to the main reasons associated with medication non-compliance, most people struggle with taking the correct medication due to:
- Fear - they may be afraid of possible side effects
- Cost - they may not be able to afford copays
- Mistrust - they might mistrust “big-pharma”
- Misunderstanding - they might not understand what to do
- Worry - they may be concerned about dependency on a drug
- Complexity - they may have many medications to manage
- Lack of symptoms - they might not believe they need the medication
- Forgetfulness - they might simply forget to take their medication.
While these may seem like completely different reasons, they all come back to four core concerns - affordability, accessibility, understanding and confidence. If you can deliver on these concerns for your patients, you’ll have an increased chance of improving medication adherence and enhancing health outcomes.
One simple way to help your patients take the correct dosage they need is to turn to a trusted pharmacy provider. By partnering with a nationally licensed mail-order pharmacy, like HomeMed, you can address most of these reasons for medication non-compliance.
Affordability - the bulk-buying power of dedicated pharmacies means your patients can access their prescription medication for less.
Accessibility - with convenient online ordering, home delivery and the ability to auto-fill prescriptions, accessing medication is much easier.
Understanding - with experienced pharmacists available to answer any questions, patients will be able to understand how their medication works and how it should be taken properly.
Confidence - instant access to an online app and a range of online resources boost patient confidence about their medication.
Partner with HomeMed to improve health outcomes
Nationally licensed across all 50 states, HomeMed is ready to partner with your onsite clinic, medical practice or telehealth service to provide prescription medication to your patients. Dedicated to increasing medication compliance, we work hard to reduce the barriers to accessing medications for all Americans.