6 Common Barriers to Medication Adherence
Medication non-adherence is affecting 40-50% of patients with chronic conditions, causing what is thought to be 100,000 preventable deaths each year. Since Pharmacy Quality Measures are closely aligned with reimbursement, pharmacies are encouraged to fill gaps in patient care and improve these scores for the patients they serve.
Talking to your patients and offering solutions to help them improve adherence are key steps for success. Before engaging your patient, understanding common causes for non-adherence can help.
Here are 6 of the most common barriers to medication adherence:
Forgetfulness and Time Management
Incorporating medications into a daily routine can be challenging for anyone. Staying consistent with that routine is even harder, especially when there has been a change in schedule or environment. Patients have busy lifestyles and it is easy to forget things, regardless of age or cognitive ability. It is helpful to have reminders and medication organization solutions to make it easier for patients to stay on top of their medication regimens.
Confusion About Medication Dosing Schedule
When a patient is prescribed several medications with high dose frequency, the opportunity for poor adherence increases. Understanding and organizing the dose times can be very challenging for patients and even their loved ones. Your pharmacy can offer compliance packaging solutions to simplify your patient’s regimen and provide clear visual reminders of their medication dose schedule.
Poor Understanding of Medications
Health literacy limitations can affect a patient’s adherence to their medications. If they do not understand the medication’s proper use, the reason for the medication, and the benefits of taking it, this will lower the patient’s motivation to continue it or start it at all. As a trusted member of their healthcare team, pharmacists can provide education so they can be more informed about the proper use and benefits.
Concerns about side effects
For some patients, the side effects or fear of side effects of a medication may contribute to non-adherence. It is important to encourage patients to report any adverse side effects so you can discuss ways to better manage them. Letting them know that your pharmacy is a resource will encourage them to communicate with you if it becomes unmanageable, and a medication change is needed.
Aging patients or those without the financial means for transportation are limited in their ability to get to the pharmacy to pick up their medications. Also, it can be challenging to even speak with the pharmacist about medication-related issues. If they do not have the support from a friend, family member, or caregiver, this can be detrimental to their adherence and ultimately their health. Delivery and phone consultations can go a long way in managing these barriers for your patients.
Cost of Medication
One of the major barriers to adherence is cost of the prescribed medication. This may lead to rationing medications or not filling medications at all. There are a few things your pharmacy can offer to overcome this. Recommending a generic drug or alternative medication to the provider could be a solution. There are also various coupon savings programs and even patient assistance plans you can recommend. Remind the patient about the importance of adhering to their treatment plan and that there are options to help them.
Whatever challenges a patient is facing, getting to the root of the issue is an important first step. Following up with solutions for better medication management and continued communication is equally important. Taking these steps with your patients will improve outcomes not only for them, but for your pharmacy as well.