November 17, 2021
3 min. read

5 Ways to Encourage Medication Adherence in Your Patients


50% of patients with chronic disease do not take their medications as prescribed by their providers. Read below for ways you can encourage medication adherence in your patients.

Medication adherence is the extent to which patients take their medications as prescribed and advised by providers. Medication adherence assumes that the patient possesses the knowledge, and skills to follow providers’ prescriptions along with the notion that a patient is equipped with the resources and motivation to follow their regimens.

There is, however, the inverse of this: medication non-adherence. Medication non-adherence can be divided into two different categories. There is intentional non-adherence which is the active process whereby the patient opts to deviate from their treatment regimen. Similar in its potential risk factors is the unacknowledged route: unintentional medication non-adherence. As it sounds, unintentional medication non-adherence is the inactive, passive process whereby the patient may be careless, forgetful, or simply unaware of deviations from their medication adherence plan.

Medication adherence

Some common adverse incidents that arise from non-adherence, intentional or not, range from medical to economic. 50% of patients with chronic diseases do not take their medications as prescribed by their providers. 30-50% of treatment failures can be traced to non-adherence. 1 out of 3 patients fails to fill their prescriptions. One-third to ⅔ of all prescription medication-related hospitalizations in the U.S. are the result of poor medication adherence. Non-adherence comes with a price. Non-adherence in the U.S. exceeds $300 billion annually in cost.

What are the Factors That Affect Medication Adherence?

Medication adherence is not entirely unambiguous and several factors may affect it. For one, there are a few external components that could impact medication adherence. Social and economic elements come into play. Financial stress, from the medication cost, a patient’s copayment price or both may overwhelm the patient. The patient may receive little to no support from their families in their treatment plans, lack transportation for medical appointments, have low health literacy, or have cultural beliefs at odds with their treatments.

Another external factor that could affect medication adherence would be the providers themselves. This could look like insufficient follow-up or discharge planning, lackluster provider-patient relationship, little positive reinforcement from their providers, or a deficient continuity of care.

Other internal elements that may affect medication adherence can be traced to the patient’s condition. That is the treatment of asymptomatic disease, chronic cases, and conditions, or an inadequate understanding of the disease amongst medical experts. Unsuitable medication therapy could affect medication adherence as well. The complexity of a patient’s regimen, side effects of their treatment, a fluctuating medication routine, treatments with extended duration of time, or just a plain lifestyle burden could all affect the quality and consistency of medication adherence. And lastly, medication adherence’s adequacy is affected by the patient’s knowledge of their condition and treatment plan. Attitudes, beliefs, and expectations the patient may have of their treatment may also impact medication adherence.


How Can Medication Adherence Be Improved?

There are more involved approaches to better medication adherence. At Medly, we provide Medication Therapy Management (MTM). MTM involves a myriad range of health care services, all provided by pharmacists, the medication professionals on a given patient’s health care team. With MTM, pharmacists can actively manage patients’ medications to identify, prevent, and resolve medication-related issues. This support allows patients to not only get the highest benefits from their medication but also their pharmacists. MTM services offer medication therapy reviews, provide pharmacotherapy consults, anticoagulation management, immunizations, health and wellness programs, and various other clinical services. These include medication education options for patients which are available at any hour, any day. Medly also provides customizable dosage packaging to simplify a patient’s drug routine. We grant access to all types of medications and make consultations with a pharmacist accessible via telephone call or text message. Lastly, Medly pharmacists can keep patients on top of their schedules. With Medly, pharmacists can provide refill management services for patients to remain consistent with their medication adherence.

Resources: Medication Adherence: WHO Cares? Adherence and health care costs Comparing the quality of oral anticoagulant management by anticoagulation clinics and by family physicians: a randomized controlled trial

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