In general, it is the norm to get your prescription from your doctor, and your medication from your pharmacist. Pharmacists are trained to fulfill prescriptions, answer patient questions, and guide patients through the instructions that come along with their medication.
However, this process isn’t foolproof. With the potential for human error, poor customer service, lack of access, lack of privacy, and a host of other issues, the traditional model of fulfilling all prescriptions at the local pharmacy can contribute to problems with patient adherence, hindering patients from accessing and taking their medication exactly as prescribed.
In cases where patients require custom medication due to allergies or other complications, pharmacists who specialize in drug compounding become critical to providing a life-saving service by mixing and pressing very specific and tailored medication to suit a patient’s needs.
In most cases, a pharmacist’s job is to provide a patient with prescription medication as per a doctor’s orders, adding an extra step onto a process that can potentially be fulfilled at the point of care. That’s where in-office dispensing becomes an invaluable option for many doctors, giving them the opportunity to keep track of their patient’s medication adherence, and follow up accordingly, while providing an extra source of revenue.
What is Patient Compliance?
Patient compliance, sometimes better known as patient adherence or medication adherence, is the accuracy with which a patient sticks to their treatment regimen as per their healthcare provider. There are many barriers in patient compliance, as suggested by the rate at which patients fail to properly adhere to their medication plans. As per the WHO, rates of nonadherence for any mediation or treatment vary wildly, making it a major problem in the management of all diseases and illnesses, causing major strain to the healthcare system, and leading to frequent re-hospitalizations and poor outcomes.
Proper patient compliance or patient adherence doesn’t guarantee good health, but it does imply that a patient is getting their full intended treatment. Eliminating the factors that fuel medication nonadherence is critical when aiming to reduce poor outcomes and save lives.
What Causes Patient Compliance Problems?
Patient compliance is a complex issue, as it involves a series of different factors. When a patient is tasked with buying medication to treat their illness, there are several things to consider.
First, there’s the financial burden of treatment. Can the patient afford their treatment? Or are they likely to skip doses, or halve them?
Then, there’s the human error. Could the pharmacist have provided a patient with the wrong dosage? Could it have been the wrong medication? What about human error on the patient’s part? A sizeable portion of surveyed patients revealed that they simply forget to take their medication, which can seriously impact their health and outcomes.
Other factors include unreported side effects causing patients to stop taking their medication, and more. While many of these issues have been partially addressed by innovations and technology, there is substantial room for improvement. As per a report in the Health Science Journal, the primary factors that inform patient adherence include:
These describe physical and mental limitations that impact patient adherence, particularly in the elderly. Solutions offered for such patient-related factors include specialized and tailored reminders, digital solutions such as app-based pill trackers and calendars, and portable pill boxes that are easy to carry around. Other patient-related factors include a lack of knowledge about the medication, as well as the disease, and low motivation.
While it’s a pharmacist’s job to help inform patients, it’s often a patient’s responsibility to ask questions – many patients are potentially uncomfortable consulting a pharmacist on peak hours in a busy pharmacy, without any real privacy or peace, under stressful circumstances and likely illness.
When chronic conditions seem to improve, patients tend to take their medication less often. This is not advised, as a presumed or felt absence of symptoms does not mean that the condition is beaten, or that it is a good idea to stop treatment. It is important to follow up with patients and ensure that they continue taking their medication despite an absence of symptoms, unless an examination can confirm that medication is no longer needed.
These describe factors that hinder patient adherence due to the complexity of the treatment plan, the large number of doses required for treatment, the overall length of the treatment, or treatment plans that largely interfere with a person’s life and are deemed too inconvenient to continue. Another example of a therapy-related factor is when a patient stops taking medication due to side-effects impacting their lifestyle.
Health Care System Factors
These factors describe errors and gaps in communication between healthcare providers and patients, either between doctors and patients, pharmacists and patients, or other professionals who are involved in a patient’s treatment. Examples include wrong medication, lack of instructions for use, poor communication regarding the nature of the illness and its medication, lack of regard for a patient’s memory issues or cognitive problems, and more.
It’s easier to adhere to a treatment plan when you are getting help. Patients who cannot afford their medication or who are too busy to stick to their treatments are more likely to struggle with medication nonadherence. A problematic work schedule, lack of resources, and limited or no access to proper healthcare are more common examples of socioeconomic factors.
Why In-Office Dispensing?
While there are a variety of different ways to tackle medication nonadherence and patient compliance issues, in-office dispensing represents an opportunity to eliminate the errors and problems associated with pharmacy care, improving patient compliance by adding convenience and providing a safe and quiet space to be fully informed of a disease’s symptoms and nature, and the best treatment going forward.
ProficientRx specializes in helping clinics and other practices set up in-office dispensing, to enable the best possible service at the point-of-care. With an emphasis on helping healthcare professionals transition seamlessly into providing a vast collection of different medicines, ProficientRx also provides injection kids, durable medical equipment, and much more. Through a web-based dispensing system software, ProficientRx seeks to help minimize the complexity of in-office dispensing by making data management as simple as possible, making it easy to keep track of patient records, print labels for medication, and more. We pride ourselves on providing a superior service.