According to statistics, there are 32 million patients who are prescribed three or more medications by their physicians. Of these, over 70 percent of adults do not adhere to their prescription plan. This can be frustrating for physicians.
The National Association of Chain Drugstores reports medication non-adherence causes over 100,000 deaths each year and costs billions of dollars.
To combat this problem, doctors can implement actions geared specifically for improving compliance among their patients. Below are some tips physicians can start utilizing today.
Providing Better Education
Gaining knowledge about the medicine you have prescribed should be done at the pharmacy. However, your patients rarely receive quality education from a pharmacist. There are several reasons patients do not seek education from a pharmacist about their medication.
One reason is that patients do not ask for education. They blindly trust that you know what is best for them.
Both patients and pharmacists are in a hurry. Patients tell themselves they will read the brochure or google information when they get home. Also, patients notice the pharmacist is busy. They ask patients if they have questions or need education, but you can see in their eyes they really do not have the time.
Furthermore, patients get embarrassed. They do not want all the other patients waiting in line to hear what medicines they are on and how to use them.
With doctor dispensing, patients can receive demonstrations and assistance in learning how to use medications directly from you, their care provider.
Providing Convenient Pick-Up
One thing that can truly help your patients is an in-office dispensing system. This may seem like a small addition to you, but it is a huge convenience for your patients. You are saving them a minimum of one hour by eliminating the drive and wait time at the pharmacy.
When your patients must obtain a ride to an appointment with you, they can feel satisfied knowing they do not have to chauffeur from office to office.
Because this system is so easy to use, patients are more likely to follow through in getting their prescription filled, making them more compliant.
Providing Refill Convenience
Refills are so much easier for patients when using in-office dispensing. Often, patients call to get their prescriptions refilled at a pharmacy and are told they need doctor approval for a refill. They then make an appointment to see the doctor, who then approves the refill.
Sometimes patients can just call in to the practice and leave a voice mail regarding the needed approval. Either way, this can take days. By then, patients may have run out of their medication and put their health at risk.
With direct dispensing, the patient can call directly into your office to place the request for refill. You can check their records to determine if a refill can be approved. They go by your office and in just a few minutes, pick up their prescription.
Provide Engaged Staff Members
Staff members will have more time to focus on patient care. They may notice behaviors that weren’t apparent in during your visit. Staff may be able to gather information that you couldn’t. Staff members can check and keep on top of patients who are not calling in for refills.
They can find other ways to determine if patients are compliant.
Prepackaged medications can be streamlined for quick delivery because there is no compounding, mixing, or sorting that needs to be completed. The medicines are ready before the patients even need them.
You and your staff simply enter the prescription information into the computer. Next you print the label, retrieve the prepackaged medicine from the locked cabinet, adhere the label and deliver package to your patient.
When staff are more engaged in the process, they can recognize compliance issues and act to improve them. They can act as care coordinators to ensure patients are following treatment plans.
Provide Adherence Packaging
It is so much easier for patients to follow prepackaged instructions than when medicines are sent home in one bottle. Adherence packaging labels medicine and separates each pill so the patient knows when to take their medicine each day.
Prepackaged medication comes in individual doses. This means you and your patients do not have to worry about medication errors such as underuse or overuse.
With prepackaged medications, the patient can simply separate the individual dose from the rest of the package, open it and consume. Accidental overuse is not an issue, making this process safer for the patient as well.
Because each dose is labeled according to dose and calendar date, underusing prescriptions can be easily avoided also.
Provide Education to Caregivers
When one of your patients is getting help from a care provider, you want to do your part to ensure your patient gets the right medication, at the right time, and at the right dose.
Because care providers have many duties, any help you can provide to make their job easier is a plus.
Prepackaged medication can help caregivers ensure patients are taking their medications correctly. It makes it easy for care givers to dispense and they don’t have to spend time sorting and counting pills to make sure your patient is on schedule.
Caregivers can give you accurate reports on patient compliance and discuss with you any struggles they may be having. This helps because patients aren’t always truthful. Not because they aren’t honest, but sometimes they just don’t remember.
Care givers need knowledge on the medications they are administering to patients. They need to know what to expect if the patient has a negative reaction. They need to know signs and symptoms for a possible drug interaction.
Care givers are given much better medication education with repackaged medicine than by traditional methods.
They feel more comfortable, less rushed and like privacy is important. They are more likely to ask questions imperative to the correct treatment of your patient. This is what leads to better patient compliance and medication adherence, which is your goal as a physician.