Case Management

Tips for preventing readmissions through improved medication management

Case Management Insider, July 21, 2015

Case managers know that it’s often medication-related problems that send patients back to the hospital after discharge. Maybe the patient didn’t have the money to fill the needed prescription or the patient didn’t follow the doctor’s instructions because he or she didn’t understand them. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking to prevent readmissions, proper medication use is a topic you need to focus on.

Poor medication adherence is a common problem, according to The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM). Some 20%–50% of patients don’t take their medication as prescribed for a variety of reasons, including low health literacy, cost, lack of understanding why they need the medication, and inadequate follow-up, among others, according to the organization.

The American Heart Association says that poor medication adherence may claim as many as 125,000 American lives each year and costs the healthcare system some $300 billion in return visits to the emergency room and doctor due to medication-related problems.

But there are ways to make it more likely that your patients will take their medication as their doctor prescribes. ACPM offers up some simple strategies that can help.

The first step is to ensure that the patient understands why he or she needs to take the medication and how it will benefit him or her. Ensure that he or she can afford the medication and understands how to use it. ACPM says that using the acronym SIMPLE can help providers gain better adherence:

  • Simplify the regimen. Make it as easy as possible for the patient to take the medication they need.
  • Impart knowledge. Give the patient the understanding they need to know how and to want to take the medication.
  • Modify patient beliefs and human behavior, help the patient to take control of his or her condition.
  • Provide communication and trust. Patients don’t work well with providers they don’t trust, take the time to build a relationship.
  • Leave the bias. Understanding a patient’s socioeconomic status and cultural beliefs can help remove barriers to adherence.
  • Evaluate adherence. Follow up with patients to ensure compliance.

In addition to following the tips above, you can also help patients by connecting them with resources. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a number of tools on its website that can help patients learn how to ask the right questions about medication use. A form offers a list of questions patients can ask their pharmacist. The FDA also has this guide to help patients avoid medication mistakes.

By helping to ensure that patients understand their medications, can afford them, and know the importance of taking them properly, case managers can help head off potential problems and help keep patients from experiencing related health problems that can land them back in the hospital after discharge.

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