According to the NIH, medication non-adherence ranges from 7% to over 83%, with the pooled prevalence of non-adherence lying toward the middle of this range (42.6%). Unfortunately, non-adherence has a negative impact on health outcomes and the overall patient care experience.

The good news is that there are numerous resources to help patients track medication, including text message refill reminders, medication tracking apps, pillboxes, and much more. Below, you’ll learn how loved ones, healthcare providers, and the aforementioned resources can help patients track medication and improve overall health outcomes. Let’s dive in.

The Importance of Medication Adherence

Medication adherence to prescription drugs has a critical impact on a patient’s care journey and overall health. A lack of adherence can exacerbate existing conditions, cause worsening symptoms, and make it difficult to achieve favorable outcomes.

Understanding Medication Adherence

Medication adherence refers to the degree to which a patient follows their healthcare professional’s guidance for taking prescription drugs. Medication adherence includes following timing, dosage, and frequency rules of medication use.

By increasing their adherence, patients can achieve better outcomes and reduce the risk of unwanted side effects. However, practitioners, caregivers, family members, and loved ones should help patients track medication. Providing medication reminders can be particularly beneficial when it comes to older adults who may be on lots of new medications and supplements.

Consequences of Poor Medication Adherence

Why help patients track medications? While there are plenty of reasons, the most notable is that doing so can help patients avoid the consequences of poor adherence. Failing to take medications as prescribed can lead to worsening health conditions and the development of new symptoms.

Using meds with contraindicated substances can cause unwanted drug interactions. In turn, these interactions may lead to side effects like an increase or decrease in blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, or even life-threatening conditions. A pattern of non-adherence may also increase someone’s medical expenses and even increase health insurance claims denials.

Common Challenges Patients Face in Tracking Medications

Patients encounter all sorts of challenges that can create issues with medication adherence. Some of the most common include:

Forgetfulness and Busy Schedules

The hustle of daily life can get the best of any of us, especially those with complicated medication regimens. Individuals with hectic work or personal schedules may forget to take their prescriptions, miss doses, or take meds late. Setting reminders or enabling notifications via a health app can help these patients miss fewer doses.

Managing Multiple Medications

Keeping up with one prescription can be a big enough hassle on its own. If a person has to take several different medications, each with its own dosage schedule, they can easily forget what to take and when. Fortunately, medication management apps make it easier to keep up with multiple prescriptions, even if they are different dosage regimens.

Language and Literacy Barriers

The average patient might have a tough time pronouncing the names of some of their medications. If they have several different meds with similar names and appearances, they might not know which one to take and when. This lack of confidence can lead to non-adherence and skipped doses, especially if the person is dealing with other challenges, like forgetfulness.

Effective Strategies to Help Patients Track Medications

The best ways to help patients track medication include:

Educating Patients on Their Medications

Medication education gives consumers confidence regarding what they are prescribed, when to take it, and any possible side effects to be aware of. By educating your patients, you can address any concerns they might have and ensure they understand your recommendations regarding dosage and timing.

Utilizing Medication Management Tools and Apps

There are many free apps on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store to help patients track medications. Whether a patient has an Android or iOS device, they will be able to find a great app. These solutions range from simple pill reminder apps to more advanced solutions that assist with health data management, scheduling prescription refills, and much more.

Setting Up Reminders and Alarms

Patients can also set up medication reminder apps or schedule alarms on their smartphones to help ensure they take their meds on time. Setting a simple reminder can avoid missed doses, too.

Simplifying Medication Regimens

As a healthcare provider, you should consider simplifying medication regimens whenever practical. Reducing the number of meds a person takes or consolidating doses (changing from three times per day to one to two times per day) can help improve adherence and reduce the risk of missed doses.

Tools and Resources for Medication Tracking

In many instances, patients who have trouble keeping up with their medication simply aren’t using the right tools. Here are some great resources to help patients track medications.

Mobile Apps for Medication Management

Downloading an Android or iPhone mobile app is one of the easiest ways to improve adherence. These apps are designed to be user-friendly, with many being geared toward older adults who may be less comfortable with technology. Some apps even include medication expiration date guidelines to protect patients from the risks of outdated meds.

Pill Organizers and Dispensers

Pill organizers are a simple tool for keeping prescription drugs organized. Patients can set out all of their pills for the week (or the month) and ensure they never miss a dose. If they take some pills multiple times throughout the day, they can invest in a pill organizer with “AM” and “PM” slots.

Printed Medication Schedules and Charts

Caregivers can create and print out medication schedules for patients. These schedules should include the name and dosage of each med as well as instructions for use (i.e., take one pill daily with food). By consolidating the information for all of a person’s meds into one document, caregivers can improve adherence and make the instructions easier to read.

Role of Healthcare Providers in Medication Management

While medication adherence largely falls on the patient and their loved ones or caregivers, you also have a huge role to play. With that in mind, you can help patients track medications with:

Regular Follow-Ups and Check-Ins

Simply checking in with your patients and scheduling routine follow-ups goes a long way in improving adherence. This can be particularly useful when starting someone on a new medication, as follow-ups give you a chance to see how they are responding to the meds.

Personalized Medication Plans

Personalizing a patient’s medication plan can encourage better adherence by simplifying their dosage structure. It’s also important to balance a patient’s immediate care needs with their beliefs, preferences, and other personal variables.

Collaborating With Pharmacists

Working closely with pharmacists can promote accessibility and reduce the risk of delays. Ensuring that patients can promptly access their meds will promote better adherence and discourage people from delaying refills, skipping doses, or “rationing” their medications.

How Physician Dispensing Helps With Medication Management

Physician dispensing can help patients track medications and improve overall adherence. By dispensing drugs in-office, you can provide:

Immediate Access to Medications

People with transportation issues or hectic work schedules might not have time to wait around at a pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. In-office dispensing eliminates the need for patients to respond to a pharmacy and wait around to receive their meds.

Personalized Patient Counseling

Oftentimes, pharmacists rush through counseling or simply allow patients to opt out. While they typically provide your patients with a pamphlet or other written resources, these documents don’t have the same impact as personalized counseling. Through the in-office model, you can counsel patients during their visit and address any concerns they may have about starting new meds.

Simplified Prescription Processes

Working with physician dispensing companies simplifies the process of issuing prescriptions. Your team can verify insurance coverage and prepare meds directly in the office. If there’s an issue with insurance, cost, or availability, you can proactively address the problem before the patient even walks out the door.

Enhanced Monitoring and Follow-Up

By transforming your office into the patient’s refill location, you increase your ability to monitor adherence and conduct follow-up. You begin offering greater convenience, which incentivizes those under your care to stick to your recommendations.

Elevating Patient Care With Medication Tracking Support

As a physician, you have a responsibility to help patients track medication. While you’ll need the support of caregivers, loved ones, and the patients themselves, it is vital that you proactively fulfill your responsibility to those under your care.

Optimizing Adherence and Improving Patient Outcomes

Educating patients on the importance of taking prescriptions as instructed and making them aware of simple tools like apps and pill organizers can help optimize adherence and lead to an improved overall care journey.

Encouraging Proactive Medication Management

Want to help patients track medication? Consider creating your own physician dispensing program and removing barriers to medication access. By issuing medications in-house, you can educate patients on the spot, provide tips for helping them take their prescriptions on time, and share important strategies that improve their health outcomes.

If you’d like to learn more about how to help patients track medication with physician-dispensing technology, contact ProficientRx. As a leader in medication dispensing software, we can provide you with the tools and resources necessary to launch a successful dispensing program.