Medication adherence is the practice of taking prescription medications as instructed. This includes consistently taking the prescribed dose, at the prescribed time, and for the prescribed duration. However, more than fifty percent of patients do not take their medication as prescribed, resulting in poor outcomes, diminished quality of life, increased hospitalization, and increased healthcare expenditures. This problem, known as medication nonadherence (MNA), is a major healthcare concern and the impetus for the development of a number of products and procedures aimed at improving drug adherence and, ultimately, healthcare outcomes.
Reasons for Not Taking Prescribed Medication
Many people may find it difficult to convey barriers to adherence to their healthcare team or may not be aware of the health consequences of non-adherence. Not comprehending the instructions, inability to pay for medication, confusion regarding dose schedule, confusing one drug for another, no longer experiencing symptoms, not understanding the rationale for taking the medication, and unpleasant side effects are major reasons for medication nonadherence.
Identifying and correcting MNA should be part of the comprehensive treatment strategy for patients with acute and chronic illnesses who rely on medication. Today, multiple medication adherence techniques are available, and as technology and understanding advance, more techniques will emerge.
Creating an Environment Favorable to Adherence
There’s no need to feel embarrassed about seeking a pharmacist’s assistance in understanding medication, including the purpose of the prescription, proper usage, and potential side effects. Your pharmacist should maintain an environment devoid of blame and offer constructive support for your health goals. The pharmacist and physician may be able to switch a medicine that is causing unpleasant side effects, adjust the dosing schedule to accommodate your schedule, and locate cost-saving manufacturer discounts or generic alternatives.
Tools for Organizing and Reminding
When many medications are prescribed, adherence becomes more difficult, and when their administration regimens differ, it gets even more difficult. Chronically ill elderly adults may be taking seven or more drugs simultaneously. Systems that remind patients to take their medications can improve medication adherence.
Low-tech plastic pill organizers have been utilized for decades. This tool helps organize drugs by day and can include various dose times per day. Organizing drugs with plastic pillboxes reduces the risk of missing a dose and serves as a visual reminder if the medication was take or not taken at the recommended time and date. As a result of the removal of prescription pills from their original bottles with identification markings, there is a risk of medication confusion. You can utilize online resources such as the Pill Identifier from Drugs.com to identify a medicine outside of its labeled container. Keep your pill organizer in a location that will remind you to take your medications throughout the day.
Utilizing Technology to Enhance Adherence
Some high-tech pill organizers support medication adherence with features such as alarms set for recommended dosing times, flashing containers as a visual reminder to take medications, and dispensers that automatically dispense the correct dose into a cup at the appropriate time.
In the United States, over 77% of the population owns a smartphone, which opens up a world of opportunities for medication-adherence support programs. Some pill containers can also integrate with smartphone applications to remind the user to take their medication automatically. These systems can also track prescription adherence and monitor adverse effects and symptoms. For more information visit InVisitRx.
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