From managing chronic conditions to treating diseases like cancer, adhering to prescribed therapies is essential for optimal outcomes. The consequences for non-adherence can include poor quality of life, physical limitations, hospitalization or worse, and yet it’s estimated that only 50% of patients with a chronic condition take their medications as prescribed. The financial impact is also significant. Poor medication adherence results in $290 billion in healthcare costs.

Barriers for Medication Adherence

Patients generally want to do what’s best for their health, so why does adherence persist as such a significant problem? There are a number of potential factors, including:

  • Insufficient education. Patients may not take medications because they don’t understand the benefits of therapy or potential consequences of non-adherence. They may worry about side effects or just become less engaged over time.
  • Complex regimens. Patients may simply have trouble remembering what their doctor told them. They may need extra support to remember what to take and when.
  • Financial limitations. Medications can be very costly and patients may stop taking one because they can’t afford it.
  • Logistic issues. Something like transportation limitations can make it difficult for patients to stay on track. If regular visits to a pharmacy are required – especially if a patient has multiple medications that are refilled on different dates – they may not pick them up.

Supporting Medication Adherence With Bi-Directional Communication

Many of the known barriers to medication adherence can be addressed with better communication and automated outreach via mobile phone. Text messaging has been identified as an effective tool to support adherence. This widely accessible communication method can help you stay connected with patients, bridge gaps in resources and services, and provide valuable information, reminders, and nudges. Developing care pathways with content that is aligned with the patient’s journey will help them stay engaged and on track.

Deliver Ongoing Education

Ensure that patients can proactively address barriers to medication adherence by arming them with just-in-time information and step by step guidance about why they are being prescribed a medication, the benefits of adhering to their care plan, and resources to mitigate side effects. As time goes by, patients may get complacent about their medications, especially if they are feeling fine, so steady education can help maintain adherence

Provide Motivation, Encouragement and Reminders

In addition to educational content that ensures patients understand their medications, it’s also important to encourage patients to stick with their care plan and remind them why it’s so important. If a patient reaches a milestone in their treatment or has improved their health condition, acknowledging that can be a great motivator. Recognition, reminders, and gentle nudges can help patients feel connected to their healthcare journey and empowered to make healthy choices.

Create Short, Easy to Understand Messages

Most patients do not have medical training and will find lengthy, technical documents intimidating. If they can’t understand the information you are providing or if they feel confused, it will be much harder for them to comply with their health plan. Timely, simple messages can break down complex information into an understandable, useful format that will be easier for patients to digest and follow.

Identify Barriers Before They Have a Negative Impact

Make sure patients have a way to report barriers to adherence. Prompting patients to report what they are experiencing can help you get ahead of potential issues. Survey responses can trigger follow up questions for patients and alerts for the care team. If your organization or industry partners have programs and services to help with financial support or transportation for instance, make sure patients are aware of them. Knowing what issues are impacting adherence will help you get ahead of them.

Changing the Way Organizations Connect With Patients

Twistle is a powerful tool for driving long-term patient engagement – we help drive sustained engagement and adherence.

Automating Proactive Communication

Using patient engagement technology to automate proactive communication can help your team provide personalized care without overwhelming your staff. Proactively answering questions, offering motivation, and providing information can keep most patients on track so you can focus on those who need added support.

If you need help optimizing and personalizing medication adherence pathways, contact Twistle at info@twistle.com.

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