A recent study published in Psychiatric Services noted that approximately 20% of patients stopped taking their prescribed antidepressants without telling their healthcare providers. Medication adherence is a huge problem in medicine and taking medications incorrectly impacts patient treatment goals. Non-compliance with prescribed medication rates are sometimes stated to be as high as 75%.
Many solutions to this problem have been introduced. The industry has come up with clever ways to remind patients to take their medications on time, ranging from watches to fancy bottle caps with alarms, and even mobile apps. While they solve the problem of “simply forgetting” to take the medicine on time, none of those technologies get to the root causes of non-compliance. Patients may not be convinced that the medication will do any good, or they don’t “feel it working”. They may find the side effects overwhelming or may not be able to self-administer the drug properly, e.g. injections or inhalers.
Non compliance is a challenging and complex issue that may have, in part, a simple answer. When clinicians ask patients at every visit – are you taking your medication as I directed? All the time, every time? – a bond of caring is formed and strengthened. The National Medication Adherence in America report states that a personal connection with the patient is a top predictor of adherence with medication regimens. Patients are unlikely to volunteer that a medication regimen is too tough to follow or that the medicine makes them feel worse. Clinicians can then make suggestions or change the medication. Implementing this simple strategy can make a huge difference to a single patient or to many. It’s worth a try.
InnovaHealth Innovations provides consulting services to medical practices to help them be successful in today’s complex healthcare environment. You can reach IHI at: 503.341.0593.