We Need to Improve Medication Adherence to Improve Patient Outcomes

New medications such as metformin, statins, and antihypertensives save thousands of lives yearly. Indeed, a proper medication regimen can improve health outcomes and life expectancy for many patients with chronic diseases such as heart disease or type II diabetes. Unfortunately, patient adherence has been at a constant low for decades, with only one in two patients following their doctor’s prescriptions.

Medication nonadherence leads to over 120,000 preventable deaths each year and up to $300 billion cumulatively spent on additional medical treatments. And we aren’t taking steps to tackle this issue. In fact, most of the medical literature up to date suggests that nonadherence is a patient-specific problem. While blaming the patient for their medical outcomes is easier, this ignores some of the broader issues present in the medical system. Moreover, condemning patients certainly does nothing to improve these alarming numbers.

At Primary Medical Care Center, we believe that our patients’ concerns deserve our attention. We value effective physician and patient communication and do our best to tailor our treatment to our patients’ needs.

Is your current medication regime causing unpleasant side effects? Call us at (305) 751-1500 or use our contact form. We’ll help you get the best long-term treatment without sacrificing your well-being!

What Should Healthcare Professionals Do to Improve Medication Adherence?

Doctors have extensive knowledge and qualifications to treat those in need. Without medical professionals, we wouldn’t be able to prevent and treat diseases. However, we need to acknowledge that we’re not treating sickness but patients. Gone are the days when doctors had supreme authority over their patient’s treatment.

Nowadays, patients expect to be well informed and to have a say in their treatment plans. This is a shift in the right direction. Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals are still lagging behind. It’s time for medical providers to approach their patients with humility. Perhaps patients have valid reasons for eschewing their medications. Here’s how doctors can help improve medication adherence without placing unnecessary blame on the patients:

  1. Seeking an open discussion with their patients.

Many healthcare professionals treat patient education as an afterthought. The common conception is that patients lack the health literacy to understand or play an active role in their treatment. While this is often the case, the problem is on both sides.

Patients can’t comprehend medical information because many doctors are poor communicators. Indeed, effective treatment requires open collaboration. Medical professionals need to remember that patients don’t need exhaustive mechanistic explanations.

But they do want their concerns about medication side effects and treatment duration to be heard. An open and realistic discussion about a patient’s medical needs and treatment options can increase patient confidence and adherence.

  1. Changing the way they discuss medication adherence with patients.

Doctors need to be proactive to ensure good patient adherence. However, solving the issue isn’t as simple as saying “Take your medication.” Patients must be well informed about prescribed drugs’ benefits and side effects.

Doctors should help patients weigh the pros and cons of each treatment option or even complementary approaches. If a patient finds it difficult to take their medication, we should strive to find out why that is and what we can do to improve this.

The worst thing we can do as physicians is dismiss our patient’s complaints about their medication regimen. Indeed, side effects are often one of the leading causes of nonadherence in otherwise well-intended and health-conscious patients.

  1. Focusing on preventive care and proper diagnosis first.

One of the many complaints of patients is that they feel unseen. Doctors often rush to order expensive tests and procedures and prescribe extensive lists of medications. While this approach helps doctors cover as many bases as possible, it places an unnecessary monetary burden on patients.

Healthcare providers should take their time to thoroughly assess and educate their patients. Not only does this build a patient’s confidence and satisfaction with their medical service, but it also reduces excessive healthcare spending. This makes quality service more accessible and incentives patients to better adhere to their treatment plan.

  1. Sticking to evidence-based recommendations.

Finally, well-intended practitioners sometimes feel forced to exaggerate health claims to improve patient adherence. But physicians must remain transparent and realistic with their patients. A physician’s job is to influence a patient’s behavior, not to become a spokesperson for pharmaceutical products.

Patients can tell when a doctor is trying to sell them something. And this only erodes the doctor-patient relationship. If patients have reasons to doubt your sincerity, they’ll lose confidence in their treatment plan. Doctors should be working with their patients instead of against them. Patients don’t need miraculous promises that fail to deliver— they need real numbers and proper medical care.

If you or someone you love needs a second opinion, contact us today! We provide comprehensive, patient-centered care and achieve high medication adherence without sacrificing our patients’ well-being! Call us at (305) 751-1500 or use our contact form for more information.