Clinical professionals can hardly ever be certain that patients will adhere to medication protocols. Patients fail to adhere to medication regimens for assorted reasons. They may not feel involved in the decision-making process, or they may find themselves confused by prescriptions and procedures.
Medication adherence can potentially mean the difference between a patient surviving and seeing their condition deteriorate. If clinical professionals want their hard work to result in improved medical outcomes, they need to consider these and other aspects and develop workable solutions for increased medication adherence.
When endeavoring to improve medication adherence, consider these avenues.
1. Patient Education
The patient is primarily responsible for medication adherence, and therefore patient education is an essential strategy for improving adherence. Studies have shown that the average patient remembers as little as half of what is discussed during any consultation with a medical professional. Patient education is not just about disease-specific programs, but also signposting patients to other professionals that can offer advice and support, including community health teams, local pharmacists, and access to quality resources on the internet.
2. Patient Empowerment
Educating and informing the patient play a crucial role in empowering them and giving them a sense of control over their own treatment. Something as simple as asking the patient what time of day is best for them to take their medication can have a huge impact. When this approach is taken to other aspects of the patient’s diagnosis and treatment, including using techniques such as remote blood collection, the patient gains a sense of control over their condition and is more likely to adhere to the medication regime that aids in their continued well-being.
3. Economic Constraint Reduction
Many patients set out with good intentions to take their medications as prescribed, but financial constraints can significantly affect their ability to continue to do so:
Trust, respect and understanding, built upon taking patients religious or cultural beliefs and attitudes into account, play a crucial role in medication adherence. A physician should take the time to explain the base ingredients and, when needed, provide an alternative therapy that does not impinge on patient's beliefs. In turn, a patient that has a good relationship with their physician and trusts them is more likely to take medication as directed.
5. Adverse-Effects Mitigation
Adverse effects of medication are a concern for many patients. When their first encounter with these adverse reactions is reading the insert on the medication package, the knowledge can be overwhelming and frightening. By explaining the adverse effects, the likelihood of their occurrence, and the action to take if they do occur, physicians markedly increase medication adherence.
None of the above approaches work in isolation. To dramatically improve medication adherence across the patient population, these strategies need to be used together in a holistic approach that focuses on the patient throughout the process.