Adherence with medication means the degree to which a patient follows a doctor’s orders. It means you and your patient have collaborated to form a plan that the patient has agreed to follow.

It can be frustrating when patients do not stick to their treatment plan. You have worked with them to develop goals and have prescribed them medication to help them reach those goals.

Patients are not generally defiant when it comes to following your directions. Most of the time, obstacles arise that make it hard for the patient to stay on track.

Barriers can be divided into four categories of non-adherence: the patient fails to pick up the prescription; the patient does not refill a prescription on time; the patient accidentally forgets to take the medication; or when the patient makes the decision not to take the medication. These non-adherence obstacles are considered barriers to good health. Meaning, they are preventing your patients from achieving better health outcomes.

This often means you must add a step in the treatment you provide, where you must first learn what the barriers are so that you can determine the best course of action in helping them take their medications as prescribed.


Identify Barriers

It will be hard to you to help patients resolve problems if you do not know what those problems are. So, one of the first things you must do is consult with your patient to identify the barriers in the patient’s life that prevent them from staying on track with medications.

These barriers will different among patients. Some may not have transportation to pick up their medications. Some may have trouble remembering which pills they took earlier in the day and fear taking too much of one medicine.

Other patients may be experiencing anything from financial issues, caregiver changes, or they simply need help staying organized.

Once the barriers are identified, you can begin to suggest solutions to overcome these barriers. Keep reading to discover strategies other doctors may be already using to help their patients.


Medication Management Technology

There seems to be a mobile application for everything today. And yes, there are many created to help patients stay on track with their medications. This is the digital age and each app offers patients a variety of benefits, like reminder notifications and alarms.

In this remarkable digital age, some companies have developed a sensor that the patient can swallow and use to help measure how well they are managing their medications. This device is FDA approved and was created to combat the statistic that nearly 50 percent of all patients do not adhere to taking medications as prescribed.


Use Automatic Refill Services

A quick and easy way to improve medication adherence is to help your patient enroll in the automatic refill service. This service alerts your patient when it is time for a refill and then notifies them when the medication is ready for pick up.

Your patient no longer must worry about calling in a refill one week before they run out of medication. Many refill services will contact you directly if a refill has expired, and then completing the process on behalf of the patient.

If you are prescribing medicine at the point of care, this process becomes even simpler. Everything is done in your office, giving you immediate access to data about patient compliance.


Keep Records and Track

Many organizations have produced tools to make record keeping and tracking your medication schedule easy. The National Institute on Aging, for example, created a worksheet that allows your patients to track the name of the drug, what it is used for, dosing instructions and more.

Documentation like this makes it easy for patients to see what they have taken and when. It can prevent them from taking double doses of medicine and gives them reassurance that they are safe.

Keeping records and tracking is just a small part of sticking to a routine, another important suggestion that has shown to help patients.


Stick to a Routine

Routines make it easy to remember when you take medicines each day. It helps you form a positive habit of taking the right medicine at the right time during the day. Many people are on more than one medication. Therefore, routine is important in preventing medication errors.

Routines can be developed by matching actions, surroundings, and even time of day with medication prescribed. This allows the patient’s environment to play an important role in triggering the memory and reminding them it is time to take their medicine.


Involve Caregivers

Any person who assists patients in taking their medication should be involved in all your communications on the importance of adherence. If you only give directions to the patient, the information may not make it to the caregiver. Or if it does, it may be out of context.

Caregivers can also benefit from learning to create routines, using digital apps and technology, and documenting everything about a patient’s medication schedule and adherence.

There is a method to help patients, caregivers and even you, the physician. It’s called prepackaged medication.


Prepackaged Medication

The use of prepackaged medication is one of the most effective ways to help patients maintain adherence. Prepackaged medicine is typical used by doctors who prescribe in-office. The doctor receives the medication in a packaging that is of the highest quality.

The packaging must meet FDA standards on safety, cleanliness and ease of use. Patients benefit from prepackaging because each pill is separated by day. All the patient must do is look to see if they took the previous day’s pill. If so, they know it is okay to take the current dose.

The computer technology that comes with in-office dispensing notifies you of refill status and any inconsistencies in adherence. This is truly the simplest and best way to help your patients stay on track with their medications.

When you can help them adhere to their prescription plan, they will see a decrease in disease, higher functioning and a better quality of life.