Medication adherence is the degree to which a patient follows a provider’s recommended medication treatment plan. Unfortunately, it is common to be medication non-adherent. It is also common to be medication non-compliant. This is when a patient deliberately and intentionally refuses medication. Both non-adherence and non-compliance are costly, consume health care resources, and contribute to poor health outcomes. Medications play a key role in treatment, which is why adherence and compliance is important. Medication reminders successfully contribute to patients becoming both adherent and compliant.
Medication non-adherence is when a patient unintentionally or intentionally refuses medication for reasons such as confusion, helplessness, or being overwhelmed. When patients practice some form of medication non-adherence, they are not getting the correct amount of medicine into their bodies at the right time. This can cause possible readmissions to the hospital, especially for people with chronic conditions. Once patients leave the hospital or doctor’s office, it is up to them to follow their medication regimen.
Non-adherence to the medication plan is often found in a patient who experiences the following:
- Medication-related side effects
- Belief that the medication is not working
- Feeling better, belief that the medication is no longer needed
- Cost of treatment
- Lack of understanding
- Lack of family support for medication taking
Medication non-compliance is the intentional choice to not take a medication according to the prescribed directions. There is a variety of reasons for this such as denial, depression, cultural issues, and questioning of a provider’s competence. Although medications are effective in combating disease, approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. While following instructions for your medications may seem simple, there are a lot of different factors that lead to medication non-compliance.
Non-compliance to a medication plan is often a result of these three factors:
- Patient-Related Factors: Inadequate health literacy is the main contributor. In the United States alone, an estimated 90 million adults have inadequate health literacy. Inadequate health literacy can lead to a lack of understanding their condition or medication instructions. To improve compliance, understanding the ‘why’ behind why patients do not take medications correctly and providing the appropriate education is an absolute necessity. The more a patient understands their condition and how to control it, the more likely they are to feel empowered and motivated to manage their disease and adhere to their medications.
- Physician- Related Factors: Physicians can often unintentionally lead to medication nonadherence by prescribing complex drug regimens, prescribing medications that may be unaffordable to the patient, or inadequately explaining possible side-effects a patient may experience. A solution to this is incorporating a pharmacist into the care team to provide medication education and spending more time with the patient when developing their care plan.
- Health System/Team Building Related Factors: Due to fragmented health systems, physicians do not have easy access to information from a patient’s numerous care providers. This can cause issues when developing an effect care strategy and communicating with a patient. Another factor in health systems that lead to non-compliance are drug costs, which can greatly limit a patient’s access to care. Increased implementation of electronic medical records and electronic prescribing has the potential to increase adherence by identifying patients at risk of nonadherence and targeting them for intervention.
Medication Reminder Apps
Traditional reminders like weekly pill boxes or packaged calendars are helpful for some patients but for others on more complex regiments, they just do not cut it. With electronic reminders it is easier to manage medications more efficiently. They are accessible, educate the patient, and provide a place for medication-specific information creating a more streamlined process.
There is a variety of free apps patients can download for little or no cost. Features of these apps include reminders for refills, medication information, drug discount codes, calendar-based alarms, and a place to log doses amongst others. These applications are a great strategy to incorporate as they aid patients and health care providers to improve medication-taking habits.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that mobile apps help to improve medication adherence, even for adults who lack experience with smartphones. When patients struggle with adherence and compliance, incorporating and utilizing a mobile app will benefit them as they reach their health goals.
How Does Tria Health Help Prevent Non-Compliance and Non-Adherence?
Tria Health is a no cost benefit offered through select health plans. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements, and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to identify any medication interactions, affordable substitutions and answer any other medication-related questions you may have. At the end of your consultation, you will receive a customized care plan that Tria will assist in coordinating with any of your physicians.