Importance of Patient Compliance
Nobody likes going to the doctor, but there are times when we have no choice, as our bodies will eventually need some kind of repair. The problem is many individuals visit a doctor with medical concerns, yet will not take medications as prescribed, miss scheduled appointments, and/or disregard suggested lifestyle changes and dietary recommendations.
Reasons Why Some Patients Miss Taking Medication and the Consequences of Noncompliance
There are many reasons why a patient doesn’t take medication properly; some fear the side effects and warnings, while others don’t believe the medication will work, and then there are those who simply forget to fill their prescriptions or to take it at the right times. Thus, some people think their ailments will just go away without the use of medication.
Failure to Comply Hurts Everyone
Failure to comply with treatments and follow up visits can have detrimental results not only for patients but for the U.S. economy as well. In fact, noncompliant patients make up for 10 to 25 percent of nursing home and hospital admissions each year, which costs the health care system of the U.S. over $100 billion annually. According to studies, in the U.S. estimated costs of medication, noncompliance is $100 to $289 billion per year and these figures are expected to grow in the future.
This doesn’t include indirect costs of $50 billion from missed productivity in the workplace and lost patient earnings. Not to mention the complications that arise when doctors’ orders are not followed, which has already resulted in an estimated 125,000 deaths each year among patients with treatable conditions.
Where the Problems Lie
According to the health system efficiency and quality vice president of The Commonwealth Fund in New York, Anne-Marie Audet, the problem in a new era of patient care, lies in lack of patient motivation. Audet also stated, “Our system is so much geared toward acute care, but we’re moving toward investing in primary care and preventive care which means people will have to be even more engaged in their health. Generally, I think we’ve failed [as an industry] to really establish the connection between what happens in the small amount of time that people spend in the health care system and in the 99 percent of the time they spend outside of it.” She also mentioned that you could learn to activate patients; however, it is an acquired skill.
The key to reducing health care costs and improving quality care is encouraging patients to comply with medication and treatment regimes recommended.
Researchers are working on Developing Solutions for Noncompliance
In considering noncompliance predictive factors, researchers are working on developing new tools and techniques to assist physicians in tailoring treatment plans to each individual patient that will provide them with the motivation they need to collaborate in their own care.
Why people fail to comply with treatment and medication as well as factors that contribute to patient compliance improvement, have been studied globally across various medical conditions from hypertension to chronic diseases. The findings of such studies have concluded the following three factors to have the best effects on patient compliance with treatments and medications.
• Understanding of medical directions
• Involvement in the Process
• Compliance reminders
Understanding of medical directions
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that one of the main contributing factors to noncompliance with medication is that patients don’t understand the medical recommendations. According to studies, this risk of non-adherence due to patients not receiving proper instructions by the provider of how to follow medication regimes is substantially high.
One asthma study pointed out the importance of properly instructing patients on how taking their medications affect their chronic conditions. The study found that 38 percent of the patients involved in the study adhered to the regiment and the other 62 percent were under the impression they were to take their medication as needed.
Additional studies found that communication between doctors and patients was ineffective, as physicians were not explaining the benefits the prescribed medication have on their condition, which led to compliance issues.
Involvement in the Process
Many non-compliant patients feel they don’t have the proper support system to help them keep track of their daily medication usage or feel they are not involved in their own care process.
Research shows that patients of physicians who encourage them to be more involved actively in their diagnosis and treatment plan results in patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment regiments.
One study indicated that when patients view their physician as trustworthy, they are more apt to comply with following their recommendations.
Compliance reminders can be set to help patients with chronic conditions know when it’s time to take their medications. This has shown to increase compliance substantially, leading to better care outcomes.
A Chicago Medicine, University pilot program sent text messages to patients with diabetes as medication reminders, which successfully improved self-care and enhanced patient support. The program also showed a significant reduction in health care costs compared to what they were prior to the test. For each participant, the cost of care reduced by $812, which saved $1,332 in the emergency department, inpatient, and outpatient visits, offset by a $520 raise in drug costs.
In addition, 73 percent of test participants reported being satisfied with the program, while 88 percent claimed that interaction with health professionals play a big role in their engagement.
Moreover, the “Journal of the American Medical Association” (JAMA) published the findings of another clinical trial that evaluated using mobile text messaging to promote treatment adherence in adults treated for chronic diseases. The report stated that using the mobile phone text messaging system, almost doubled patient compliance rates as the adherence rate went from 50 percent to 67.7 percent, a 17.8 percent increase.
With patient noncompliance being a problem in the U.S. costing billions of dollars annually and expected to cost even more in the future, not to mention the many preventable deaths that already occurred, it is important to find out what’s causing this problem and then address it with a proper solution.
Researchers searching for answers found the problem lies in the lack of patients understanding how their medication benefits their condition or merely forget to take their medication as prescribed. Physicians providing patients with complete instructions on medication usage and health care can help patients to become more involved in their own treatment, while reminder programs can be set to remind patients when it’s time to take their medication.