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  • Writer's pictureEric Alvarez

Utilizing Students to Address Medication Adherence

An Innovative Pilot between Grapefruit Health and Ballad Health


Grapefruit Health recently completed a pilot with Ballad Health (Johnson City, TN) to address medication adherence within a clinical population of its multispecialty physician practice, Ballad Health Medical Associates.


Medication adherence is critical for patients to keep them out of the hospital, improve their overall health outcomes, and reduce the overall cost of care. Poor medication adherence can have some severe effects on the health systems that serve patients. Non-adherence is the result of 69% of medication-related hospitalizations, which increases the cost of healthcare by $100B annually.


The partnership between Ballad Health and Grapefruit Health was a pilot to improve communication around medication adherence by leveraging an innovative platform. Beginning in April 2023, Grapefruit identified, trained and managed a workforce of 13 pharmacy students from the immediate region in just four weeks. Over the ten-week pilot, over 1,000 patients were contacted about their medications through Grapefruit's groundbreaking platform, designed to utilize college students to assist with essential telehealth services. Assessments were completed on approximately 50% of the patients, with 40% of those contacted referred for additional services or escalated conversations. The top 3 reasons for poor adherence were medication side effects, the price of medication, and forgetting to take the medicines. Ballad Health teams, then, were able to address concerns and find solutions, individualizing treatment changes to ensure medication compliance. In doing so, patients were better able to adhere to their medication regiments, and Ballad Health was able to conserve important clinician resources by addressing barriers outside of the clinic setting.


The experience also had a lasting impact on students, with all the students being provided opportunities to improve their patient communication skills while providing real-world experience for the importance of medication adherence. 


Overall, the pilot was deemed a success, and the entities are evaluating future opportunities for deployment.


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