The importance of medical adherence

The importance of medical adherence

Synopsis:  Medication adherence is defined by the World Health Organization as “the degree to which the person’s behavior corresponds with the agreed recommendations from a health care provider.” It can have a tremendous impact on quality and length of life, health outcomes, and overall healthcare costs. Engaging patients and the healthcare team is essential to success in achieving medical adherence and persistence. Notable interventions include face-to-face counselling, reminders, regimen simplification, providing cost incentives or savings, and maintaining ongoing communication. The barriers are varied, and a multi-faceted approach can help in improving the situation. Digital therapeutics (DTx) is a fast-emerging class of therapies that goes a long way in improving medical adherenceto and supporting healthcare professionals. It utilizes software to treat disease, both as a standalone or for treatment optimization. Ultimately, the teams’ efforts to improve adherence can positively impact patient care and reduce hospital readmissions.

Healthcare management is a very critical topic across the globe, and it has become imperative to stress upon the root causes of the conditions affecting the global health and treat them accordingly. It is well known that the most important element for treatment efficacy and positive therapeutic outcomes is a patient appropriately abiding by prescribed medications.  In medicine, it is known as patient adherence and describes the degree to which a patient correctly follows medical advice. Most commonly, it refers to medication or drug compliance, but it can also apply to other situations such as medical device use, self-care, self-directed exercises, or therapy sessions. It is commonly known and understood that however essential, patients who are prescribed medications do not necessarily take them as prescribed.

Patient adherence to medications has been an issue challenging healthcare professional for decades. Adherence rates, causes of non-adherence, barriers and enablers to medication taking, interventions to promote adherence, and the impact of non-adherence on health outcomes, have been extensively studied.

  1. Taking the medicine as prescribed or medication adherence is important for controlling chronic conditions, treating temporary conditions, and overall long-term health and well-being. Health care professionals such as physicians, pharmacists and nurses have significant role in their daily practice to improve patient medication adherence. A personal connection with the health-care provider or pharmacist is an important part of medication adherence. Factors contributing to poor medication adherence are myriad and can start at any point. They could be addressed as patient, provider, and health system factors, with interactions among them. It ranges from low health literacy and lack of involvement in the treatment decision–making process from the patient’s side to complex drug regimens, unclear or lack of communication, limited access to care, and lack of health information technology on a larger platform. Looking at the complexity of the barriers, it is particularly important that the solutions to improve adherence must be multifactorial. Identifying specific barriers for each patient and adopting suitable techniques to overcome them is necessary to improve medication adherence.
  1. Asking key questions through motivational interviewing is therefore imperative to revealing adherence challenges, and empathetic listening will assist in arriving at patient-centred solutions to overcome these challenges. Patient education and ongoing communication are critical for patient understanding and medication persistence.
  2. With healthcare becoming digital, and patients becoming more empowered than ever before, digital health solutions have become the need of the hour. One such platform that applies technological solutions to enhance healthcare delivery is Digital therapeutics (DTx). DTx provides direct medical interventions to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software to treat, manage, and prevent a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders. They are used independently or in concert with medications, devices, or other therapies to optimize patient care and health outcomes. These go a long way in aiding medical adherence and benefit the patients, care givers and medical providers. While patients can gain access to technologies that are easy to understand, informative and offer support; it helps the doctors manage complex dosing schedule, share information, and expand access to care. Moreover, it also helps reduce overall cost and enhance experience. Non-compliance and non-adherence have become a rising cause of concern in modern times, because of which there has been an increase in the number of cases of resistance, morbidity, and mortality.
  3. Non-adherence has many consequences which include waste of medication, disease progression, reduced functional abilities, a lower quality of life, increased use of medical resources such as nursing homes, hospital visits and hospital admissions. It can also result in serious health consequence which is supported by various studies. The negative consequences not only affect the patient but also the healthcare provider, the physician, and families. The first step to addressing nonadherence is to recognize that collaboration must occur among pharmaceutical companies, health care providers and patients. The potential burden of medication nonadherence makes it an important public health concern. Hence, helping people do as directed is beneficial for the community and government at large.