By Kathy Lozano, RN, Vice President of Operations at West Corporation
Have you ever tried to give cough syrup to a toddler? What should be a simple process turns into a sticky wrestling match that almost always ends in tears. Kids simply don’t like to take their medicine.
As it turns out, most adults don’t either.
From Prescription to Actual Medication Use
The truth is that the majority of Americans don’t take their medications. Consider the following statistics. For every 100 prescriptions written:
- 50-70 go to a pharmacy
- 48-66 come out of the pharmacy
- 25-30 are taken properly
- 15-20 are refilled as prescribed1
These statistics are cause for real concern, because not adhering to prescribed medications carries profound consequences for patients. Medication non-adherence is, in fact, the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality. It is responsible for 30-50 percent of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually. It is also a leading driver of high healthcare costs, adding an estimated $290 billion yearly.2 As the industry scrambles to increase quality and lower costs, non-adherence to medication is a topic that healthcare providers, payers and self-insured employers must address.
Engaging Patients Efficiently to Increase Adherence
Of course, the reasons so many adults fail to take their medications are complex and far different from those of the toddler spitting out his cough syrup. The most common contributing factors of medication non-adherence are:
- Not understanding the reasons for taking the medication
- Confusion about the medication and how to take it
- Concern about side-effects
- Psychological resistance
- Lack of a clear, immediate benefit
Most of these barriers can be resolved through patient engagement, education and communication. Of course, implementing a program to engage a large patient population effectively—to stay one step ahead of non-adherent behaviors, to monitor prescription drop-off and pickup, to send patients refill reminders, to ensure that patients have the education they need to take medications properly—isn’t easy to do.
That’s where targeted patient engagement solutions come into play. Intelligent, automated communications combined with live support from licensed clinicians enable organizations to take a scalable and patient-centered approach to engagement. By proactively helping patients take medications as prescribed, such solutions stand to contribute significantly to successful value-based care.
Kathy Lozano, RN, is Vice President of Operations at West Corporation. Ms. Lozano manages Patient Centric and Clinically Managed Services to include contact center, patient care coordination and clinical monitoring services, assisting patients, providers and payers with care engagement. In this capacity, Ms. Lozano oversees the delivery of RPM solutions, applying her 27 years of experience in clinical and leadership roles in both the acute care and homecare settings. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Pharmacies: Improving Health, Reducing Costs, July 2010. Based on IMS Health data