By Teresa Iafolla
How do we get patients to take their medication?
That’s the question on the minds of many in the healthcare space. Only 50% of patients take their medications like they should. Medication adherence continues to be a huge challenge to patient outcomes, especially for patients with multiple or chronic conditions. On top of that, medication noncompliance costs our healthcare system a whopping $289 billion every year.
Luckily, the rise of digital health is bringing a variety of tools to improve medication adherence among your patients. The even better news is that most are easy-to-use, and many are free. Using a few of these digital health tools in your practice could make the difference in helping patients stick to a treatment plan and avoiding an unnecessary hospital visit.
Here are the top ways you can use digital health to boost medication adherence.
While plenty of patients know they should take their meds, some may not fully understand the importance of sticking to a medication plan and following their doctor’s orders exactly. A common example is finishing a full course of antibiotics – once patients start to feel better, they might think, why bother taking the rest?
Of course, it’s always good to talk to patients directly about this. But why not also prescribe them a game to show them? Try recommending a creative, gamification app like PatientPartner — a smartphone app that turns patient education into a “choose your own adventure game.” Patients can pick a character and then watch how the story unfolds as they make decisions that affect the character’s health. This show vs. tell approach could allow you to connect with patients who might not otherwise understand the full consequences of medication noncompliance.
Managing medication plans can be incredibly tricky and time-consuming. Luckily, it’s never been easier than during the age of smartphones. For patients who are managing multiple medications, tracking treatment for the whole family, or just have a lot going on and need some automated reminders, recommend an app for medication management.
While there are many great apps to choose from, start with MediSafe. It’s free, available on iOS and Android, has a clean, easy-to-use interface, and can even alert a friend or family member if the patient forgets their medication.
Better Patient Engagement and Communication
Another top reason patients don’t follow their medication plans – they’re not sure how. Maybe they’re confused about instructions or worried about side effects. Or maybe they’re not convinced they need to take all of the medications they were prescribed.
The best way to combat treatment nonadherence in this case is to encourage open communication with your patients. Make it easy for patients to check-in with questions and concerns. In a world where the average wait time for an appointment can be weeks and office phones are often busy, some patients will simply let their questions go unanswered.
Digital health options like a telemedicine app that lets you video chat patients, or secure email messaging within a patient portal can make you more accessible to patients. The more convenient it is to talk with you, the more likely your patients will reach out to resolve any questions or concerns and continue their treatment on schedule.
As the digital health market continues to grow, we’re likely to see huge improvements in patient treatment adherence. Start implementing a few of these digital health solutions in your practice today and watch the positive effects on your patient care outcomes.
About the Author
Teresa Iafolla is Director of Content Marketing at eVisit, a physician-first telemedicine solution connecting providers to their patients via secure, video chat. Teresa manages and writes for the eVisit Blog, a resource for physicians and practice managers trying to improve their practices and boost revenue. To contact Teresa with questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.