What is Medication Adherence? Tips for Promoting Compliance

What is Medication Adherence?

In technical terms, medication adherence is the extent to which patients take medications as prescribed in agreement with their health care provider.

Simply put, medication adherence and medication compliance mean following a prescribed regimen, having a clear understanding of one’s medication(s) and directions, and getting prescriptions refilled on time.

Medication management is essential for keeping chronic conditions at bay to reduce unplanned in-person clinical appointments and avoid more costly issues down the line. With staggering stats like only 50% of patients with chronic conditions taking their medications as prescribed, medication non-adherence is a critical challenge in healthcare. It costs the industry an estimated $290 billion per year, so what can you do?

Reasons for Medication Non-adherence

The harsh reality is, “Drugs don’t work in people who don’t take them”, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

The top reasons a consumer may become medication non-adherent include:

  • Financial CostsWhat this looks like: To refill the fridge or medications? Long before the pandemic hit, many people struggled to stay on top of their medications. More people are struggling with financial decisions that impact their medication management, with roughly 25% of patients reporting they ration their prescriptions when facing financial burdens.
  • Side effectsWhat this looks like: Experiencing side effects, or overcoming the fear of perceived effects, is another significant obstacle. Fear factors include weight gain, nausea, fatigue, and more.
  • ForgetfulnessWhat this looks like: Consumers aren’t intentionally forgetful; life gets busy, we snooze through our reminders, we feel healthy that day, etc.
  • ConvenienceWhat this looks like: Whether it’s taking time off work to go in during pharmacy hours or arranging transportation, a lack of resources can make picking up a prescription inconvenient, or even impossible.
  • PolypharmacyWhat this looks like: For consumers taking five or more medications (polypharmacy), they may face a combination of these barriers, like getting on a regular schedule, confusing directions, overcoming multiple side effects, or experiencing greater costs. More than 40 percent of older Americans fall into this category.

Tips for Encouraging Medication Adherence

Boosting medication adherence is one of the most impactful ways you can help people keep chronic conditions under control. By helping them, you can also help your organization by driving more refill revenue and reduce claims costs.

Here are tips from Welltok’s team of experts for boosting adherence:

  1. Start with data, including consumer data with SDOH insights, and predictive analytics to know exactly who’s at risk for being non-adherent so you can get ahead of it
  2. Leverage multiple channels. Use multiple communication channels like IVR for automated refills, live-agent warm transfers for connecting with high-need individuals and text messaging for daily medication reminders
  3. Make your messages stick with barrier breaking questions, and immediate call to actions like “Are you ready to refill?”
  4. Reduce abrasion. Don’t overwhelm the individual with too many messages. Coordinate outreach for multiple refills and use analytics to identify the most effective communications channel

The secret sauce is combining these steps together, which is hard work.

What You Can Do...Now!

More pharmacies, PBMs, health plans and pharmaceutical companies have taken an active role in engaging people to increase medication compliance.

Your campaigns can make a difference. To get your messages heard, you need to optimize outreach by sending multi-channel communications. Here’s an example from our team of engagement experts:

Sample Medications Adherence Multi-Channel Campaign:

  • Direct mail to let people know about prescription options and different ways to get them
  • Automated voice (IVR) and text messages to alert them when it’s time (or when they are late) to refill
  • Offer warm transfers to live agents to help them overcome barrier to complying (like using mail order or home delivery instead of physically going into a pharmacy)

Improving Medication Adherence with a Trusted Partner

This is hard work, which is why we’re helping our clients optimize their medication adherence campaigns. Our predictive models can help you identify people at highest risk for non-compliance and execute multi-channel communications campaigns to promote medication adherence. With our multiple communication channels, we can drive cost effective, efficient outreach that drives immediate action and results (including up to 85% refill rates).

We are eager to help you too. Let’s talk about how we can help you boost adherence.

Want to learn more? Let's talk!