Best practices for medication adherence

In this article, we will answer the pertinent question of “what are best practices for medication adherence” and also understand each of these practices deeply by exploring the process undertaken in them. 

What are the best practices for medication adherence?

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Following are just some of the many effective practices that ensure medication adherence in patients. 

  • Psychoeducate the patients 
  • Have healthy and nurturing relationships with patients. …
  • Join forces with prescribers
  • Utilize the staff appropriately
  • Make efficient use of technological advancements
  • Assist patients in need and make sure to customize their support tools. …
  • Schedule regular appointments.
  • Synchronize medications.
  • Make written notes
  • Take side effects into consideration
  • Do not ignore the financial burden imposed upon the patient

What is medication adherence?

Medication adherence has many different definitions given by several medical bodies but it can be described in simple words as consumption or intake of medications prescribed by a physician according to the correct dosage and at a scheduled time. It can also include getting the prescription of the medications filled as well as understanding and following the directions given by their doctors.  

Research data suggests that an estimated number of 50% of people do not follow the prescribed way of taking medications. This estimate also includes those patients whose lives could be at serious risk if they tamper with dosage intake or are negligent about the process. Sometimes people stop the medications before time if they observe improvement in their symptoms. But they don’t realize that they are heading towards dire consequences if they remained non-compliant.   

When it comes to nonadherence of medications one strategy or method does not work on every patient. Different patients respond to different kinds of strategies or solutions. Therefore through research and the observations, examinations, and experience over the years, a few effective practices have emerged that aid the medical team in improving compliance in patients. The needs and situations of every patient are different and we cannot blame them always for their nonadherence. Sometimes they have a genuine reason behind such actions. For example, people with amnesia tend to forget when and how much they are supposed to take. Sometimes they ingest twice the prescribed amount because they think they haven’t taken the medicine when in reality they had already taken it.  Sometimes a financial crisis can also lead patients to cut down on the dosage as they cannot afford it. Therefore it is very important to be empathetic and understanding towards the patient’s circumstances and help each and everyone through the various effective practices that are available for them.

Practices for medical adherence

Following are some of the best practices followed by providers to ensure compliance and adherence from patients

  • Psychoeducation

Before starting a new treatment it is better to lay out all the possible outcomes before the patient. Generally, a new treatment method always brings out good results but sometimes it may not and discourage the patient from continuing the treatment and taking medicines. Or if they are asymptomatic for a while they might delude themselves into thinking that they can stop taking the drugs but that is only going to have negative consequences. Therefore the patient must be completely aware of what to expect from the treatments and therapies, the effects of the drugs on their body, and what would be the consequences if they stopped the treatment midway. 

  • Nurture empathetic and healthy relationships with patients.

More often the medical field is very clinical and emotionless in its approach. Patients can feel disconnected if their prescriber and the provider(pharmacist or any other medical staff) are very clinical and appear uninterested. While the monotony, pressure, and stress of their work environment can bring out this side in them it can have a very negative impact on the patient’s perception. They might assume that their well-being is not important to them and might feel discouraged to adhere to the medication course. Therefore it is important to nurture a relationship with the client so that they can feel the concern for their well-being. A few nice words before providing them with their prescription and greeting them with a pleasant face a\can do wonders in keeping the patient motivated. 

  • Learn about and use available technologies.

Technology has come a long way over the past few decades and is widely used in every field. The medical field relies heavily on technology to maintain the healthcare industry. We can keep track of patients’ progress and medications adherence through specially designed systems and can even send reminders. Technology has made monitoring patients abundantly easier and we can make keeping track of the proper dosage, their schedule, and duration of several patients at once. 

  • Help patients customize their support tools.

There are many tools available in the market these days. There are specially designed apps that help monitor the progress as well as send reminders at scheduled times. Or there are also simple pill boxes that help you separate the pill according to the prescribed dosage. These pillboxes are specially designed containers that also help you sort the pills according to the frequency of the dosage. These tools help the patient take control of their own health and helps them become responsible and aware  

  • Schedule appointments.

The community pharmacies could get hectic and pharmacists could get busy with an overflow of patients. It might be difficult to give their undivided time and attention to a single patient and address their concerns and doubts. The pharmacists have to take care of other things as well such as stocking up on the medications, attending the calls, taking care of emergencies, etc. Therefore Community pharmacies are busy operations. In such instances, it is ideal to make appointments beforehand. By scheduling an appointment you can ensure that the pharmacist can give complete attention and can properly take care of all your needs. It also relieves them from rushing through their work. 

Understanding the patient’s behavior 

By understanding the patient’s behavior we can gain an insight into how to tackle their non-adherence. This can be done by asking them to describe how they go about their treatment process and whether they have to face any trouble in taking the drugs. Some patients don’t like the taste or have trouble swallowing the pills. Some might face trouble filling their medication or might be able to even afford them. There could be many underlying causes for their behavior and therefore it is better to allow them to be comfortable in a nonjudgmental environment. This will help them in trusting the providers. Only if the providers are aware of the problem can they help come up with a solution. 

Inform about the side effects

Some medications though effective, often come with a few side effects. These side effects can be quite unpleasant and make the patient less likely to continue taking the medications. But it has been observed that if the patients are aware of these side effects beforehand they are willing to ignore them and adhere to the treatment. Providers can also assist in managing the side effects through some techniques or other drugs.  

Make a written note

Sometimes patients don’t recall or accurately remember the details provided orally. To avoid this scenario it is better to make a written note detailing all the instructions and directions regarding the treatment and the procedure. Thr providers describe the procedure of medications intake

Collaborate with patients

What time of the day would be best for the patient to take their medications? If the medication doesn’t come with specific instructions (i.e., take one pill in the morning), then brainstorm ideas with the patient. Ideally, it would be a time when the patient knows they will generally be free from other commitments and distractions. For example, if mornings are chaotic in terms of dropping children off at daycare, perhaps nighttime would be a better option, so they don’t forget.

Be mindful of the financial burden 

Not all patients are financially secure or can afford some of the costly drugs needed for their treatment. This forces them to stop their treatment and medications as they just cannot afford to buy them. To help tackle this problem the providers can help them look for assistance plans by governments or pharmaceutical companies that provide aid to people in need. Health Insurance also provides great relief in such situations and there are always schemes available that can enable the patient to continue their prescriptions.

Monitor and follow up with patients

By keeping track of tier progress the providers can gauge whether the patients are properly following the directions.  They can help them by sending reminders through text, email, or direct mail. By scheduling regular follow-up appointments the providers can address any issues regarding adherence and even help the patients come up with effective solutions. 

Conclusion

We learned and understood about medication adherence and the effective practices that help in sustaining and improving medication adherence. It also described in detail what each practice aims for and how it helps in ensuring compliance of the patients. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the strategies to improve medication adherence?

Medication adherence is necessary to ensure complete recovery of the patient and non-adherence can lead to dire consequences. Hence following strategies are employed to ensure and improve medication adherence.

1) ensuring access to providers across the continuum of care and implementing team-based care

2) educating and empowering patients to understand the treatment regimen and its benefits

3) reducing barriers to obtaining medication, including cost reduction

How nurses can improve medication adherence?

Here are four nursing interventions that can improve medication adherence.

.Following are four nursing intervention techniques that help with medication adherence in patients

  • Provide necessary information and resources to the patient
  • Be empathetic. Encourage honest and open communication with the patient.
  • Always ensure positive reinforcement
  • Set up a schedule that is suitable as well as effective for the patient

What interventions will the nurse use to improve adherence to a medication regimen for the older adult?

Research has shown that strategies and interventions such as psychoeducation, taking help of tools to increase management, or relying on technological assistance can significantly improve adherence and also help in maintaining it in older adults. 

What are adherence strategies?

Medication Adherence refers to the consumption of prescribed medications by the patients according to the way they were prescribed to them by a physician or medical practitioner until they are required to do so. Taking medications is a behavioral process and sometimes patients show unwillingness to take medications. Therefore the strategies employed by the medical practitioners to tackle non-adherence in patients in regards to medications are called adherence strategies.  How can children improve medication adherence?

Ensuring medical adherence in children can be a little tricky at times. We have to make sure that we aren’t making them feel coerced or threatened in any way and have to handle things carefully. Therefore practices to improve adherence in children include using simplified drug regimens (e.g., once-daily dosing), taking medications in liquid or non-pill forms, pleasant-tasting medicines, ensuring that there is ideal and regular contact between the physician and the parents, setting reminders, counseling the child, making self-management plans, etc. 

References

Nine tips for improving medication adherence. AmerisourceBergen. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://www.amerisourcebergen.com/insights/pharmacies/nine-tips-for-medication-adherence

Resnick, R. (2020, January 29). 10 strategies to improve patient compliance with medication. Blog. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://blog.cureatr.com/10-strategies-improve-patient-compliance-with-medication 

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