Medication adherence: why it is important.
When a medication prescription is issued, it is important that the medication is taken as prescribed and – specifically when treating chronic conditions – to take the medication continuously most often at specific time intervals (e.g.: on a daily basis, with/before/after breakfast). The rate in which you take your treatment as prescribed is called medication adherence.
Research shows that adherence rates of at least 80% are needed to make sure your treatment actually works (therapeutic efficacy)1.
Only half of chronic patients take their meds as prescribed
It has been shown that especially in chronic conditions medication adherence rates drop significantly after 6 months of treatment1. Research shows that people with a chronic condition only have an average adherence rate of about 50%. This may lead to increased complications, an increase in hospitalization, higher mortality risk as well as a significant impact on increased health care costs3,4.
Barriers to taking medication as prescribed
According to a study published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion, the most important barriers to poor medication adherence in patients with hypertension, are patient incompatibility, forgetfulness and non-expert medical advice2.
Both forgetfulness and medication errors are especially a problem in the elderly population, and leads to a considerable increase in hospitalization, injuries and complications.
How to increase adherence?
Since poor medication adherence has such negative consequences, the importance of finding ways to improve patient motivation has to be highlighted.
Patient education, motivation techniques and support, use of wearables, apps and other digital tools may significantly help improve medication adherence. Try to set reminders, or to create habits that help you to take your medication the right way. There are also some good apps available that can help you with that, or even smart pill boxes that record a signal every time you open the pill box.
Some tools that are currently being used to help improve medication adherence
Dosell: a Swedish digital medication robot that helps to make sure the patient gets the right medicine at the right time by delivering the right amount of medicine at the prescribed time. Moreover does the robot alert the health care provider and/or relatives if the medicine is not taken. It uses a SIM-card to provide internet connection.
Medisafe app: a freely available app sends out reminders, vital drug interaction warnings and alerts caregivers regarding missed medication
Pill reminder:an easy-to-use and reliable app that helps you remember to take your medications at the right time. It allows you to create any type of recurring reminders (every X hours, specific times, daily, weekly, monthly, every X days, etc). It tracks the remaining quantity of each medication and shows a refill alert when running low. Available in App Store:
MyTherapy:a pill reminder and medication tracker. Combining a pill tracker, mood tracker, and a health journal, MyTherapy enables you and your doctor to put your treatment’s success into perspective.
Mango Health:takes care of your daily health routine, to make it fun, easy, and rewarding. Feature highlights include: reminders to take your medicine and keep up with healthy habits, drug interactions info, a health history, and best of all – points and rewards!
MedMinder:makes it easier for your parents or loved ones to take their medications in the right amount and at the right time. With visual, audio and phone alerts, you’ll never need to remind them when to take their meds again. And you will be notified if they missed dosage. MedMinder is the only pill dispenser with Medical Alert, daily weather forecast and the ability to upload family pictures.
- Najimi, Arash et al. “Barriers to medication adherence in patients with hypertension: A qualitative study.” Journal of education and health promotion 7 24. 9 Feb. 2018, doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_65_16
- Jimmy, Beena, and Jimmy Jose. “Patient medication adherence: measures in daily practice.” Oman medical journal 26,3 (2011): 155-9. doi:10.5001/omj.2011.38
- Addo, Bright et al. “Medication Noncompliance among Patients with Chronic Diseases Attending a Primary Health Facility in a Periurban District in Ghana.” International journal of chronic diseases 2018 7187284. 7 Jun. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/7187284