Low medication adherence is widely recognised as one of the top causes for treatment failures, serious adverse reactions and even deaths. It also increases the probability of hospital readmissions and more expensive treatments. To overcome this problem, healthcare professionals can identify the barriers to treatment and develop patient-centred strategies to overcome them.
Here are 10 tips to address medication adherence with your patients -
1. Understand each patient’s behaviour
Communicate with your patients and ask them if they have trouble affording or taking their medications. Create an open environment to make your patients feel comfortable and encourage them to speak openly and honestly.
2. Address the side effects of medications
Patients who experience side effects will be less likely to stop taking medications if they know about them in advance. Talk about the chances of experiencing side effects, how to overcome them, alternate treatment options in case they persist and how to prevent adverse drug reactions.
3. Provide written instructions
Patients are less likely to forget instructions if they are written down. Rather than verbally instructing, provide medication charts, schedules or calendars specifying when and how to take medications.
4. Collaborate with patients
Discuss with your patients what the best time would be for them to take their medicines. Encourage them to build a regular and consistent routine. Ensure they understand the importance of taking a particular medicine as prescribed, even during symptom-free periods.
5. Identify cost-cutting strategies
Patients may ration or simply stop taking their medications if they cannot afford them. To prevent this, you can prescribe lesser costing generic medications, review their insurance coverage and refer them for government schemes and discounts.
6. Assess the health literacy of patients
A patient’s lifestyle and level of education greatly affect their compliance with medication. Don’t assume that they automatically understand the importance of adherence. Instead, effectively communicate when, how, and why they need to take their medications, especially in case of elderly patients or patients of lower socioeconomic status.
7. Reduce complexity
Evaluate your patient to understand what other medications they are taking. Reduce the complexity of the drug regimen by providing combination products and prescribe drugs with once-daily dosing instead of multiple doses per day.
8. Follow up
Automated medication reminders via messages, emails or calls. You can schedule follow-up appointments to discuss medication compliance as well.
9. Encourage stronger relationships with pharmacists
Pharmacists can help address the problem of non-compliance. They can provide patient education, reiterate the importance of taking medications and also give patients alternate low-cost options.
10. Use technology
Health IT can be quite beneficial for patients and help them manage their medications. Encourage the use of various adherence tools such as apps, alarms, timers and automated reminders to ensure that the patient regularly takes their medicines.
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