The medication adherence problem and what health professionals can do to help

Recently, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) released their first National Medication Adherence in America report. Based on a survey among American adults 40+ who have been prescribed ongoing medication for a chronic condition, the report shows a troubling C+ grade for adherence. The low grade is alarming given the amount of risks and costs associated with patient’s medication non-adherence.

Top highlights of the report include:NRCA

1. Patients’ personal connection with a pharmacist or pharmacy staff and feeling well-informed were among top predictors of medication adherence.

2. “Simply forgetting” was most common response from non-adherent respondents when asked about failing to comply with doctors’ orders.

3. Three-quarters of respondents say they get their medications from pharmacies. (as opposed to mail-in orders)

Health professional’s role in improving medication adherence

All of these highlights suggest that although adherence is a challenge, there are things that health professionals, can do to help improve adherence rates over
time.

Although many pharmacies are attempting to address the adherence issue, others are leading the way by putting their pharmacists in front of their patients. As highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the pharmacist’s role and the physical location is changing. As quoted in the article, “with primary-care doctors in short supply and often too busy to review medications, pharmacists are taking a more active role on the health-care team, going further than merely dispensing pills and sending out automated refill reminders. They are counseling patients face-to-face and on the phone, contacting patients who don’t refill prescriptions and checking for potential interactions between drugs prescribed by different doctors.”

Another way health professionals can tackle the adherence problem is through quality patient education. With limited time most professionals have with a patient today this can be easier said than done. But, techniques such as the Ask-Educate-Ask approach, the Teach Back Method, and Motivational Interviewing can help ensure patient understanding of the education you provide.

Have other suggestions for improving medication adherence rates? Let us know below.

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About dominikablogs

Dominika is a Community Manager of SurroundHealth, an online network where health professionals of different backgrounds come together to learn and share best practices. Dominika has her Master's in Public Health, and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Prior to SurroundHealth, Dominika worked for Kaiser Permanente, American Cancer Society, both in Patient Services and Community Health, and for HealthEd, developing patient education materials.
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