Physician Practice

Reasons for prescription non-adherence are complicated

Medical Environment Update, July 22, 2021

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by Brian Ward

Taking medicine as prescribed is crucial for maintaining health, particularly for patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, or mental health issues. While education and trust are important factors in prescription adherence, Ken Thorpe, PhD, chair of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, says providers often overlook one of the biggest factors—cost.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six in 10 Americans suffer from some form of chronic illness. A 2019 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of Americans didn’t take their medicine as prescribed at one point that year because of cost. This included patients who skipped doses or didn’t get a refill, cut pills in half, or tried to find over-the-counter alternatives. Overall, the study found that 30% of patients who didn’t take their medicine said their condition got worse as a result.

Yet prescription non-adherence can cost not only patients, but also the healthcare industry, says Thorpe, noting that “90% of what we spend is linked to chronically ill patients, and the most effective way to keep them healthy is to make sure they are adhering to their clinically recommended medications, whether it be for Type 2 diabetes, or hypertension, or the whole list.”

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Medical Environment Update.

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