The challenge of patient medication non-adherence

Confusion about the recommended regimen is common, especially at transition points such as when patients move from hospital to community.

Patient adherence to recommended treatment regimens is one of the challenges that health systems need to address to achieve quality healthcare outcomes and lower healthcare costs.  

Patient medication adherence is a multi-faceted problem and an ongoing challenge for healthcare providers to monitor. There are many reasons patients can become non-adherent to their medication regimen.

These include frustration or confusion with the exact list of medications they need to take, financial problem, lack of disease education, a perception that their medications make no difference, intolerable side effects and inability to communicate. with their healthcare providers. Confusion about the recommended regimen is common, especially at transition points such as when patients move from hospital to community.

The burden of non-adherence to the healthcare system 

Non-adherence is a critical clinical and economic problem. According to one study, in some disease conditions, over 40 percent of patients sustain significant risks by misunderstanding, forgetting, or ignoring healthcare advice. Non- adherence to medications is estimated to cause at least 10 percent of hospitalisations and 125,000 deaths each year in the United States.  

Another study conducted in 2018 on the economic impact of medication non-adherence showed that annual cost estimates of non-adherence range from US$100 to $290 billion in the United States. In diabetes alone, the estimated cost savings to the health system associated with improving medication adherence range from $661 million to $1.16 billion.  

Nonadherence to medications leads to increased healthcare costs due to additional medical visits and unnecessary and avoidable hospitalisations. A typical non-adherent patient requires approximately three additional medical visits per year, leading to $2000 increased treatment costs per annum.

Building trust through technology 

While there is no single intervention strategy that could improve the adherence of all patients, technology-based interventions are showing great promise.  

Successful attempts to improve patient medication adherence start with a properly conducted medication reconciliation to determine exactly what medications the patient should be taking and why they are taking them.  

This should be conducted at specific points across the patient’s journey of care, including at the admission to the hospital, at discharge and in the community. 

The reconciled medication list forms the foundation of any effort at improving medication adherence. Other components to any plan include a realistic assessment of the patient’s knowledge and understanding of their regimen and clear, effective communication across the patient’s care team.  

Studies have shown that integrating in-person contact with technology-based interventions can improve medication adherence.  

How can Orion Health help?  

Orion Health’s integrated Medicines platform provides a complete patient-centric solution for the management of medications at all points in the patient journey.  

The platform simplifies the task for both the care team and the patient – of understanding what medications the patient is taking, what medications they should take going forward and sharing that information across the care team.   

Our Medicines platform is the source of where all sources of medication information are assembled and organized in an easy-to-understand format.
The technology takes care of the majority of the work by semantically organising the information in a way easy for clinicians to understand and work with.   

In addition, the Medicines solution offers a sophisticated Medication Management component that enables clinicians at all points in care to perform a medications reconciliation and to share the new managed list of medicines across the care team.  

Interested in learning more about how our Medicines platform can help you and your patients?