A national survey shows that many patients don’t take their medications as directed. A new consortium of healthcare associations, drugmakers, and consumer groups sees opportunities to address the problem and reduce healthcare costs.
Leaders from organizations representing patients, healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical companies came together last week to launch a new initiative aimed at helping patients adhere to their prescription regimens.
Poor adherence puts patients, especially those with chronic conditions, at risk for serious complications.
The group, Prescriptions for a Healthy America: A Partnership for Advancing Medication Adherence, released the findings of a national survey [PDF] that shows nearly two-thirds of patients who take medications do not properly follow prescription medication guidelines.
The survey also found that nearly 90 percent of patients who take their prescription medications regularly reported themselves as in excellent or good health, while only 65 percent of those who do not adhere to their medications said the same.
“Working together, we will help advance achievable solutions to help improve medication adherence,” Joel White, executive director of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, said in a statement. “Improving adherence will improve health, lower costs, and make coverage more affordable. It is a national healthcare conversation that warrants the attention of policymakers and consumers alike. Going forward, we will work to implement a blueprint with the goal of addressing the issue head on.”
Possible short-term solutions that received support in the survey include providing clear and easy-to-understand directions for taking prescription medications, improving information technology to give patient’s doctors and healthcare providers accurate, up-to-date lists of their medications, and encouraging increased discussion between patients and doctors about their medications and the risks associated with not taking them properly.
“There are many different reasons why people don’t take their medicine as directed, from concerns about side effects to the out-of-pocket costs of prescriptions. But the consequences for patients are the same,” Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, said in the statement. “Poor adherence puts patients, especially those with chronic conditions, at risk for serious complications. Educating the public and encouraging dialogue with their healthcare professionals are important steps toward improving medication adherence in our country.”
Prescriptions for a Healthy America will work with members of Congress and other key stakeholders to develop policies to incentivize improved medication adherence and make it a critical part of treatment plans, according to its website.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to help Americans live longer, more productive, and healthier lives,” said Dr. Rebecca Jaffe, a board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in the statement. “This begins with education and awareness, but will only be fully realized if we work together to enact meaningful public policy solutions to ensure Americans have the tools and information they need to adhere to doctor-prescribed medications.”