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Medication Non-Compliance

Medication Non-Compliance

February 9, 2023

Trouble With Compliance

Managing your own medications can be difficult at times and it just gets more complicated when it is your loved one. It can be time-consuming and stressful but also very important to their overall health and well-being. Medication compliance can have a tremendous impact on quality and length of life, health outcomes, and overall healthcare costs. Missing medications or not taking them as prescribed can lead to negative outcomes and may be compounded when there are multiple conditions and therefore often a more complex drug therapy.

Unfortunately, medication non-compliance is common. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that the average elderly patient is taking more than five medications, and only 50% of those are taken correctly. There are many different factors that come into play as to why an individual may not take medications as prescribed. Let’s explore what some of the barriers may be and how we can do more to improve.

What Gets In the Way of Compliance?

Often individuals don’t know why they are taking a particular medication. Without that information and understanding, their commitment to taking it regularly may not be there. High copays and accessibility to the pharmacy can also be barriers. Side effects of medications may cause individuals to abruptly stop a medication without instruction from their prescriber. The opposite could occur as well when someone starts feeling better and decides to discontinue a medication sooner than directed. Another obstacle to taking medications as prescribed might be that an individual can’t make it to their
scheduled doctor appointments. In the elderly, cognitive decline can play a big part in non-compliance. It can be difficult to remember when to take a medication or IF it’s been taken.

Results of Non-Compliance

Medication compliance can have a tremendous impact on quality and length of life, health outcomes, and overall healthcare costs. According to the WHO, not taking medications as prescribed can account for up to 50% of treatment failures and up to 25% of hospitalizations each year in the U.S.

Strategies to Improve Compliance

Now that we’ve discussed why taking medications as prescribed is so important, let’s discuss some of the tools that are available to help remind us of when to take them. Automated refill programs and getting medications synced together so they are available for pickup on the same date are solutions your pharmacist can offer. Additionally, 90 days supply can be a helpful solution to make running out of medications less likely.

Using daily pill boxes or packaging designed to indicate date and time (i.e. noon, bedtime) can serve as good daily reminders. Setting an alarm on a phone or using a ‘medication calendar’ can be helpful as well.

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