Although many patients are diligent with taking their prescribed medication as recommended, healthcare providers face the challenge of patients that do not adhere to their medication routine resulting in unplanned visits to the office or in extreme cases, the emergency room.
In a study published by the National Library of Medicine, providers are often frustrated by the lack of consistent medication adherence in the patients they care for. Today, with the time constraints that providers face, it becomes difficult to discover the extent of non-adherence and sometimes it is discovered too late.
The National Library of Medicine reported that in a cross-sectional survey of unintentional nonadherence in over 24,000 adults with chronic illness, including hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia, 62% forgot to take medications and 37% had run out of their medications within a year. These findings necessitate immediate policy and systems solutions to support patients in preventing costly procedures and life-threatening emergencies.
These challenges extend beyond the patient-provider relationship and into cost. Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reported that 66 percent of all US adults use prescription drugs. Out-of-pocket costs for these drugs are estimated at $177 annually, but adults 65 and over pay an estimated $456 annually. The high out-of-pocket cost of medication results in taking less medication. This is a particular problem for more vulnerable populations.
Among adults who report poor health, 25 percent of people aged 51 to 64 and 12 percent of people aged 65 and older say that they have taken less medication than prescribed in the past two years because of cost. Those actions result in increased healthcare costs for the patient and the healthcare systems that treat them. In a time of limited availability of appointments and a stronger focus on quality outcomes and reduction of the total cost of care, it is critical that healthcare providers find ways to address this challenge.
One way to help mitigate medication nonadherence is to extend care beyond the office walls and consider offering remote patient monitoring. Remote patient monitoring and telehealth became important during the pandemic with providers trying to prevent the spread of COVID. Reports from many health organizations are demonstrating improvements in the lives of patients and their providers active in remote patient monitoring.
The remote patient monitoring solution offered by RPM Healthcare allows providers and nurse care coaches to assess a patient’s medication adherence and implement early interventions, especially for conditions that can result in emergency room visits and hospital admissions. The program helps providers to better manage the patient’s health with solutions and appropriate resources to assist in medication adherence.
“Our care coaches worked with a patient suffering from congestive heart failure,” relays Dr. Irina Koyfman, DNP, NP-C, RN Population Health Officer, RPM Healthcare. “The patient was slowly gaining weight. Our care coach nurse called to verify the patient’s medications and diet and learned that diuretic medication, an essential treatment for congestive heart failure, was missing. With an immediate call to the cardiologist and the pharmacy, the patient was able to restart his vital medication and lose the water weight which, if not treated quickly, would have resulted in a hospital admission.