These aren't minor medications that are being ignored, either. A third of kidney transplant patients don't take their anti-rejection medications. 41% of heart attack patients don't take their blood pressure medications.
So what are healthcare providers to do?
The problem (of course) doesn't have a quick fix. The New York Times quotes Bruce Bender, co-director of the Center for Health Promotion at National Jewish Health in Denver as saying, “Non-adherence is a huge problem, and there’s no one solution because there are many different reasons why it happens.”
Another physician, Dr. William Shrank, chief medical officer at the University of Pittsburgh Health Plan, continues, “There are so many reasons patients don’t adhere -- the prescription may be too complicated, they get confused, they don’t have symptoms, they don’t like the side effects, they can’t pay for the drug, or they believe it’s a sign of weakness to need medication.”
We believe that medical collaboration and care coordination, especially using a platform like iClickCare can play a big role in improving adherence. It's the multifactorial nature of non-adherence that makes medical collaboration such a good tool.
3 ways Medical Collaboration Can Help Improve Adherence to Prescribed Medications:
- Facilitating understanding of a patient's context.
One reason that patients stop taking medication is because there is something else in their lives that makes the medication impractical, uncomfortable, or unsustainable to take. Sometimes patients don't speak up about these issues at the time of prescription. However, if a patient's providers are collaborating, the provider who knows the most about the patient's life can be an advocate to the other providers for treatment and medication that will work in the patient's life.
- Improving communication among a patient's providers so providers affirm and support other providers' medications.
Sometimes, a treatment plan becomes circuitous -- and the medication provided by your last doctor maybe not be actively supported by your next doctor. If providers can easily collaborate, treatment plans can be understood and managed, end-to-end, rather than treated in a piecemeal fashion (leading to non-adherence.)
- Allowing more follow-up questions from patients after the visit.
We all know it can be hard to ask all the questions you want during a single medical visit. If your provider has an easy way to collaborate with other physicians (for instance, a specialist that you only saw once) it is a lot easier to resolve a quick concern about a medication so that you can continue taking it with a clear mind.
Medical Collaboration and care coordination can't solve all of non-adherence, of course. But it can help with several of the factors that contribute to it. Especially if you use a tool that makes it easy to collaborate without interrupting providers' busy schedules. It makes collaborating more practical for providers and makes adherence more practical for patients.
You can use iClickCare for free, starting here: