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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Hedgspeth

Medication Adherence: The Key to Better Patient Outcomes

Medication adherence is a serious problem in healthcare today and it has an enormous impact on patient outcomes. Studies show that 50-60% of medication regimens are not followed correctly, with medicines taken too late or omitted completely (ANA, 2023). As healthcare leaders, we must understand the importance of addressing this issue if we want to improve our organizational outcomes for better patient care. We will look at the current state of medication adherence and explore various strategies, including utilizing pharmacy students, that can be used to increase patient compliance and ultimately drive better health outcomes.

In order to improve the health outcomes of patients, it is essential for patients to be aware of and practice medication adherence. Medication adherence focuses on how well a patient sticks to outpatient medication prescription dosage, timing, and frequency prescribed by healthcare providers (Gast & Mathes, 2019). Achieving good medication adherence requires careful planning and understanding of protocols, familiarity with diseases and their treatment, trust of providers, communication, support, and adequate resources, so it’s critical that patients work closely with their healthcare team in order to ensure they’re following the right advice (Kvarnstrom et al., 2021). The ever-expanding healthcare workforce shortage has added an additional layer of difficulty in ensuring patient medication adherence. A source hardly being utilized to help them gain knowledge and experience are the 1 million clinical students in the US.

Taking medications as prescribed is a key factor in managing chronic illnesses, and it benefits both patients and healthcare providers. Medication adherence allows patients to take ownership of their health by enabling them to understand their conditions better and recognize the importance of following through with medical treatment plans. As a result, benefits such as improved clinical outcomes, reduced hospitalizations, lower health costs, and greater satisfaction for patients and providers are seen in individuals who properly adhere to medication regimens. It, therefore, benefits everyone to ensure that patients are actively engaged in their treatments and stay adherent to medication instructions given by healthcare providers.

Poor medication adherence among patients can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as confusion around prescription instructions, forgetfulness, inadequate communication between patient and practitioner, and environmental factors. For instance, low health literacy among patients presents an obstacle for them when understanding information about medication dosage and side effects. Additionally, factors such as poor access to healthcare or budgetary concerns may impact a patient's ability to adhere to their prescribed treatment plan (ANA, 2023). As a result of inadequate adherence, an individual's medical conditions may worsen and cause associated health risks or further financial burdens due to necessary hospital visits or medical procedures. Therefore, health practitioners should make every effort to ensure that the factors leading to poor medication adherence are properly addressed.

Improving medication adherence is an important part of healthcare, as it ensures that patients are getting the treatments they need. An innovative strategy for medication adherence is patient outreach utilizing pharmacy students to reach out to patients telephonically (Abughosh et al., 2017). Outreach by pharmacy students not only benefits the patients, but it helps the students become better clinicians in the future. Other strategies can be implemented to increase adherence, such as providing education and support for patients’ healthcare needs, allowing for more simplified dosing regimens, using automated reminders, and telehealth (Bingham et al., 2020). Additionally, involving family members in patient care can help improve adherence; since they are often more closely connected to the patient in daily life, they may be better equipped to ensure medications are taken on time and as prescribed. Finally, proactive communication between provider and patient helps build trust for both parties and encourages self-management of medications. Taking these measures improves the chances that patients adhere to their treatment plans, leading to improved health outcomes. Use cases for improving medication adherence with pharmacy students and telephonic outreach are listed below:

In short, medication adherence is a problem because people do not take their medications as prescribed. There are many benefits to taking medications as prescribed, but many barriers prevent people from doing so. The results of poor medication adherence can be serious and even life-threatening. However, there are affordable strategies that we can use to improve medication adherence rates. We need to be aware of the problem and have a plan to fix it.


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