Telehealth and Medication Adherence


Telehealth and Medication Adherence

With the rise of new technologies and healthcare software, patients have greater access to care. Telehealth and mHealth, defined as the delivery of healthcare services through technology, allow patients to access their health records electronically and communicate better with their providers. Telemedicine proved that it is here to stay in the post-COVID world, given the benefits it brought to managing chronic conditions or mental illnesses and overall improvement of clinical workflow. Now, telemedicine might be a solution for yet another healthcare problem: medication compliance or adherence.

What is Medication Adherence?

Adherence to medication refers to the patient’s ability to follow what the doctor ordered to maximize the effects of the prescribed therapy. Needless to say, the more patients adhere, the better their clinical outcomes.

Regardless of the patient’s condition, medication alleviates pain or some other symptom of the disease. Failing to comply with the prescribed treatment carries an issue beyond the patient’s health: non-adherence to medication is a multi-billion-dollar problem.

Why It Matters?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that non-adherence is a major global issue. It causes 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. However, it also raises the nation’s healthcare bill.

Patients who don’t comply with the doctor’s orders rake up the nation’s healthcare bill, up to $310 billion in avoidable costs  per year. Lack of patient medication compliance is especially challenging for people taking more than one medication. The top 1% of patients with high-acuity chronic conditions make up 23% of the avoidable costs.

Further, in 2011, it was found that 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. There are numerous reasons why patients fail to comply with their treatment, and we’ll have a closer look at some of them.

Barriers to Medication Adherence

There is a myriad of reasons why a patient fails to comply with prescribed treatment. From high cost to lack of understanding, care providers need to understand their patients’ troubles and try to address them accordingly.

High Costs

This reason is perfectly understandable in the current healthcare landscape. Patients must also double-check whether their insurance covers the prescribed medication costs to ensure that it is a viable option.

Difficulty in Accessing a Pharmacy

We can employ new medication adherence strategies for people who, due to illness or disability, actually can’t access the pharmacy close to their residence. Healthcare software comes into play here with mail-order pharmacies: ordering your prescriptions through an online platform.

Lack of Understanding

Sometimes, patients don’t understand why they have to take their medication. Other times, they simply outright disagree with taking the medication. Care providers must sit with their patients and explain the importance of medication compliance. Luckily, telehealth offers the tools that can save precious time for patients and providers: they can communicate through digital means and stay up to date.

Unpleasant Side Effects

Medication can cause numerous side effects, many of which can be unpleasant. By having regular, in-person, or online communication with the provider, patients can discuss alternatives: a different drug or a change in lifestyle that can perhaps ease the unwanted effects of treatment adherence.

How to Fight Medication Non-Adherence

The most effective way of fighting any problem tends to be education, for starters. Patients need to understand the importance of their therapy and how interrupting it or disregarding it completely can have severe negative consequences down the road.

Patients follow instructions in a hospital or other such care facility. However, their adherence drops once they are released for home care and have to take care of themselves. This is where telemedicine comes in.

Medication adherence can be drastically improved with digital health technology, specifically remote patient monitoring. Platforms that offer patients reminders to take their medication, virtual visits, consultations, and education specific to their conditions give patients the tools they need to remain compliant with the doctor’s orders. Patients can gain valuable insights as to why they are taking the specific medication, learn ways to alleviate pain or reduce side effects and communicate better with their care provider.

Medication Therapy Management

Medication therapy management is a service mainly used to treat chronic conditions and to ensure that patients suffering from these diseases can, among other things, remain consistent with their treatment adherence. Remote patient monitoring services are at its center to maintain regular communication with the patient and offer any healthcare services remotely.

Since 85% of the U.S. population owned a smartphone in 2021, mHealth and similar technologies play an increasingly important role in remote healthcare delivery. After discharging a patient, care providers can ensure they are enlisted in-home monitoring programs to allow for regular check-ups.

Wearables or similar monitoring devices that track the patient’s vitals ensure that the patient becomes an active participant in their healthcare delivery and increases their medication compliance. Patients who are activated and change their lifestyles drive better clinical outcomes, and telehealth makes it easier for providers and patients.

Vicert can leverage its decades of experience in the digital health landscape to develop remote patient monitoring software that fits your needs. We strive to drive better clinical outcomes by providing services that boost patient adherence and create activated patients. Don’t take our word for it – book a call with us to find out more!