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what-is-medication-adherence

Medication Adherence: What it is and Why it Matters

When patients receive a prescription from a responsible physician, they get the medicine in the strength and on the dosage schedule required for optimal treatment. However, unless patients are in the hospital and taking medication under watch, whether they adhere to pharmaceutical treatment is up to them.

Those who don’t adhere — willfully or otherwise — frequently experience negative health outcomes. The condition the medication is prescribed to treat often becomes more severe. It seems that every patient whose health relies on medication would be careful to avoid a negative outcome by practicing medication adherence. But statistics from health authorities show non-adherence is more pervasive than some think.

According to a recent report from the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), “Nonadherence to medications is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths annually [in the U.S.]… Overall, about 20% to 50% of patients are nonadherent to medical therapy”.

The situation is stressful for patients, as well as their doctors. In all but the most critical health situations, physicians don’t “force feed” medications. In most cases, the most they can do is hope patients who waver in and out of adherence — or who are non-adherent from the start — adopt a new philosophy of self-care, one that involves medication adherence to improve health.

Reasons for Non-Adherence

Reasons for medication non-adherence range from how patients personally feel about taking pharmaceuticals to group traits that apply to the non-adherent patient population at large. According to the ACPM, some of the most common reasons for medication non-adherence are:

  • Limited English language proficiency
  • High drug costs, copayments, or both
  • Severity of prescription side effects
  • Complex medication regimen
  • Lack of knowledge about the health problem

These are just a few of the many predictors of non-compliance, but they reveal an important characteristic of all non-compliance predictors: Some factors can be addressed by solutions from parties in the healthcare process, while other factors must be addressed by patients.

For example, patients must decide if they can afford a medication, and whether they can tolerate bothersome side effects. However, complex medication regimens and a lack of knowledge can be addressed with simple blister packaging.

At Drug Package, LLC we specialize in providing these solutions and others to promote medication adherence that benefits the health of patients and the bottom line of medication providers. Our solutions are designed with you and your customers in mind to support good health outcomes.

About Our Company

Drug Package, LLC has over 136 years of experience in supplying pharmacies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and doctor offices with innovative packaging, cutting edge labeling technology, custom printed products, and more. All of our medication-related solutions can be customized to promote medication adherence, while maintaining the integrity of your brand and business.

To inquire about our products and services that support medication adherence, please call us today at (800) 625-6137, or use our contact form to send us an email. We look forward to serving you!

Blister-packs

Medication Adherence Support: Prescriptions Patients Stop Prematurely

Medication adherence support is a discipline in which patients receive assistance with taking medication, as directed by a physician. The support can come from the prescriber’s office, the pharmacy, pharmacy packaging solutions, or all three.

However, some prescriptions — particularly ones that are commonly discontinued prematurely — naturally require a higher level of adherence support than others. Below, we look at four classes of medication that fall into this category, explain why they are commonly discontinued, and discuss how the discontinuance can adversely affect health outcomes.

  1. Antipsychotics

For a condition such as schizophrenia, antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Zyprexa can be magic bullets that restore mental order. The drug can work so well, in fact, that the patient begins to feel “normal” and decides that the medication isn’t necessary anymore.

Unfortunately, after discontinuing the drug, it can become quickly apparent that the medication is necessary. If a patient relapses, a short hospital stay to restabilize him or her on the medication is often in order. At the very least, it’s a situation that interrupts the person’s life in a major way and results in medical costs that medication adherence support can help prevent.

  1. Antibiotics

When a person has the flu, the doctor is likely to prescribe Tamiflu or an older generation antibiotic, such as Augmentin. These medications and other antibiotics are highly effective at fighting microbial carnage in the body that makes us feel like staying in bed all day. However, as with antipsychotics, many people stop taking antibiotics when they start to feel better, and not when all of the offending microbes are gone.

Not completing a full course of antibiotics can allow the weakened illness to regain strength, seem to redouble its miserable effects, and necessitate taking another round of medicine. When dealing with a potentially deadly illness such as the flu, this is a situation anyone should avoid.

  1. Antidepressants

Whereas antipsychotics and antibiotics are often discontinued because the patient starts to feel better, antidepressants are often stopped because the person doesn’t start to feel better — at least not as quickly as hoped. Different classes of antidepressants have different actions in the body, but doctors generally recommend taking them for at least a couple of weeks to get the full benefit.

Here, the typical outcome from non-adherence is fairly obvious: The depression doesn’t abate, which could be a life threatening situation depending on the severity of the illness. Because depression can cause a sense of listlessness and indifference in the first place, depressed patients are a population that stands to benefit from medication adherence support.

  1. Antiepileptics

Epilepsy is a disease of the central nervous system that causes some sufferers to have seizures. Because the seizures are difficult to predict and often occur without warning, epileptic patients often take a daily antiepileptic drug, such as Lyrica or its predecessor, Neurontin.

Because the drug works by slowing down electrical impulses in the brain that cause seizures, it’s generally taken on regular basis to prevent breakthrough seizures. When the drug works, and seizures are kept at bay, the patient can have a false sense of confidence about his or her condition, and stop taking the medication. Because epileptic seizures can be deadly, epileptics are a prime target for medication adherence support.

 

How Drug Package Can Help

The medications above are just a few of the many medicines that are commonly discontinued prematurely for one reason or another. Regardless of why a prescription is stopped too soon, failure to adequately treat the illness or recover from it is often the result. In addition to harming the patient, this scenario can also be responsible for unnecessary medical costs.

Drug Package can help your pharmacy perform medication adherence support for at-risk populations by providing custom or stock auxiliary labels, blister cards and much more. To inquire about our medication adherence solutions, please call us today at (800) 325-6137, or use our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

organize-medication

Medication Adherence: Patient Populations That Need Assistance

organize-medicationMost people who receive prescriptions don’t need special assistance taking the medicine as prescribed, but there are also individuals who need extra help to achieve medication adherence. These persons often fall into groups that are described as “patient populations” based on their special needs. Below, we take a look at four patient populations that commonly need assistance with medication adherence, and what dedicated pharmacists can do to help them achieve it.

  1. Patients With Complex Dosing Schedules

Complex dosing can be made simple with blister packs. Many types of medications are taken once daily, but there are also medicines that are used several times a day. This is often difficult to keep to such a schedule and wonder if you missed a dose. Blister packs are perfect for noticing at a glance if you missed a scheduled dose. Pharmacist can help by providing blister packs that will organize the medicine and contain dosing information.

  1. Patients That Experience Motor Impairment

Some patients that experience motor impairment have a hard time removing the safety cap on conventional prescription bottles. The problem is especially common among seniors that experience progressive arthritis in the hands. A pharmacist can help this population achieve medication adherence by dispensing medication in blister packs that have a thin, foil backing that is easy to break. Because the medication is easy to remove, it becomes easier to take.

  1. Patients That Deal With Memory Problems

In some cases, medication non-adherence is caused by memory problems. The customer literally forgets to take the medication and thus jeopardizes his health. This issue is especially common among people who experience memory deficits due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, but who can manage most of their affairs due to the early stage of the disease. Medication packaging that outline the specific time of day to be taken is an ideal solution for this population.

How We Help Pharmacists Help Customers

For over 100 years, Drug Package has helped pharmacists serve various patient populations, including ones that experience barriers to medication adherence. We can assist your pharmacy in helping these populations remain adherent to the prescriber’s directions by providing blister packs that provide easy visible reminders for dosing times, and blister packs with easy punch dosage.

Medication non-adherence does more than jeopardize the health of your customers. We’ll provide you with innovative medication packaging that can help organize your patient’s medication. For more information about our packaging, browse through the product pages in our online store, or call us at (800) 325-6137. We look forward to helping you help your customers remain adherent!

pharmacies

Pharmacies and Patient Adherence: How Can They Work Together?

Trying to treat patients who don’t follow doctors’ orders can be a stressful experience for physicians. However, doctor offices aren’t the only parties that play a role in patient adherence. Pharmacies can also play an essential role in helping patients remain compliant with prescribed treatments, and thus have a discernible impact on patient health outcomes. For this to happen, pharmacies must have patient adherence protocols in place, particularly the five listed below.

  1. Providing Custom Medication Packaging Options

Dispensing medicine in custom medication packaging, such as blister packs, can have a positive impact on patient adherence among certain populations. For patients who want to take medicine as prescribed but have difficulty remaining adherent, packaging that helps eliminate barriers to proper dosing can prove extremely helpful.

  1. Maintaining a Clear Line of Contact With Customers

How easy is it for your customers to speak with a live pharmacist by phone on short notice? Do they have to listen to a long introduction by a computer generated voice before they can select the option to speak directly with the pharmacy? If so, consider implementing a hotline that customers can call when they need immediate assistance concerning medication issues.

  1. Facilitating Unique Prescription Refill Needs

Most prescriptions are refilled on a monthly basis, but there are also situations in which customers can benefit from receiving refills on a weekly or biweekly basis. For example, for a patient who has abused scheduled drugs in the past but needs to take a scheduled prescription for a current health problem, receiving small, weekly refills can help encourage adherence.

  1. Communicating Prescription Benefit Programs

One of the biggest barriers to medication adherence is cost. If a patient can’t afford medication, he or she can’t be compliant with the prescriber’s recommendations. Pharmacies can help solve this problem by apprising customers of prescription benefit plans, such as AstraZeneca’s patient and prescription assistance programs, as well as state sponsored programs that offer assistance.

  1. Providing Independent Pharmacy Services

Medication services that are typically associated with independent pharmacies, such as medicine compounding and ordering brand name or prescription medications from various pharmaceutical manufacturers, can also have a discernable impact on adherence. The more that medication dispensing is tailored to customers’ unique needs, the greater the chance of adherence.

Need Custom Medication Packaging Options?
If your pharmacy is committed to improving patient adherence, using custom medication packaging options such as blister packs can be essential for achieving the goal. At Drug Package, we provide readymade and custom blister packaging solutions that are designed to help pharmacy customers remain compliant with their prescriber’s recommendations.

Our products are especially helpful for patient populations that exhibit a low level of medication compliance due to complex dosing schedules, motor impairment, memory problems, and the desire to receive more information about a prescription than your average customers. For assistance with selecting the best medication packaging options for increasing patient adherence among your customers, call us today at (800) 325-6137 for professional advice.

Tips for Increasing Patient Medication Adherence

medical-blister-cardAt a time when patients have more control over what medications they take, and how they take them, than ever before, patient medication adherence has become a major issue for our health care system. What many people don’t realize is the cost involved when patients do not practice medication adherence. When we say costs, we are not merely talking about dollars, we are talking about the cost to the patient’s overall health, as well as the system. Non adherence leads to delays in wellness, and sometimes even hospital re-admittance. Delays in wellness mean more doctor visits, more medication, and more burden to an already overburdened system. How well patients adhere to their doctor’s prescribing medication therapy has a direct impact on annual healthcare costs. Finding ways to reduce these unnecessary health expenses should be a priority, as it will increase wellness by providing a more efficient and better health care system for everyone.

What steps can be taken to increase adherence?
Based on extensive research into the subject, there are at least four strategies that can be implemented to increase adherence:

Medication Packaging
How medications are packaged can have a significant impact on how well patients adhere to the prescribing plan. According to the New England Healthcare Institute’s (NEHI) paper, “Thinking Outside the Pillbox”, the U.S. incurs an annual cost of $300 billion due to poor medication adherence, with much of it stemming from poor patient outcomes in one form or another.

Many reasons for poor patient outcomes that contribute to this number (e.g., fear of unknown side effects, poor medication information, and complex prescribing schedules) can be effectively addressed through the use of “smart packaging” for medication, such as blister packs that contain essential information that helps patients use their medications as prescribed.

At Drug Package, we specialize in creating novel medication packaging that helps increase medication adherence. With increased adherence comes better patient outcomes, which mitigates the cost of hospital readmissions and return doctor visits for the same health issue.

Care Teams
Another reason why patients fail to adhere to the prescribing plan is a lack of contact with the prescriber. Due to heavy patient loads, many doctors lack the time to return patient phone calls expeditiously. According to a recent article at managedcaremag.com, “Support through the creation of care teams incorporating nurses, care managers, pharmacists and other clinicians either inside or outside the physician’s practice” can increase medication adherence by providing patients with greater access to parties that can advise them on medication issues.

Patient Education
According to NEHI, “Counseling by primary care providers and pharmacists to help patients understand their disease and the important role of their medication in improving their condition is critical to motivating patients” to adhere to the prescribing plan. Smart packaging can also play a role in patient education by providing information that supports the information received from these parties, such as dosing schedules, medicine interaction warnings, and potential side effects.

Information Technologies
Advancements in information technology (IT) have made it possible for physicians and pharmacies to better gauge patient medication adherence, and create solutions to reduce non-adherence in a timely manner. NEHI notes that “A patient medication profile in a health IT system would give providers a full sense of a patient’s current medications and, if linked to a pharmacy system, would indicate whether a patient filled or refilled a given medication.”

When it comes to increasing patient medication adherence, knowledge is indeed power, but there must be a system for gaining knowledge in an efficient manner, and sharing it with the necessary parties simultaneously. Developing and implementing such a system may require you to invest in the services of an IT provider, but the lower health care costs that improved medication adherence would create can justify the investment, especially in the long-term.

Contact Us Today
Drug Package specializes in providing high-quality medication packaging that helps to increase patient medication adherence. We can customize blister packaging to make it easier for patients to learn essential information about their medications, and how take them as prescribed. In addition to improving patient health outcomes and cutting healthcare costs, our solutions can help physicians, pharmacies, drug companies, and insurance carriers.

For more information about our products and services, call us today at (800) 325-6137, or email us at info@drugpackage.com. We look forward to helping you reduce annual healthcare costs by increasing patient medication adherence with high-quality drug packaging.