Medication adherence has become an important topic in the world of healthcare. Generally speaking, the goal of medication treatment is to increase patient health and well-being. So then, if a patient frequently misses their medication, feels well, and appears to be in good health, should we really get all worked up about their non-adherence?
Good question! Since many medical conditions have few noticeable symptoms that interfere with daily life, it is understandable that patients experiencing side effects, financial burdens or other obstacles would fall off their medication treatment, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
With chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis, there is often silent disease progression resulting in increased health complications. Because it is preventable, disease progression associated with non-adherence causes the greatest concern among healthcare providers and pharmacists.
We are learning that greater adherence leads to decreased overall healthcare cost. Patients who remain on their medication as prescribed have fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. The study, dubbed the Pennsylvania Project
, demonstrated that patients who interacted with their pharmacist to resolve adherence barriers had significantly fewer health problems related to their treated medical condition.
Naturally, when patients’ medical conditions are well managed and they feel better, they are more productive and miss fewer days of work due to health issues. The cost benefit of minimizing missed days of work can add up and should not be ignored when we look at this issue. Patients who manage their health well, enjoy a higher quality of life and that is what we all want for our patients.
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