By Amy Seung, PharmD, BCOP
Adhering to treatment is one of the best ways patients can increase positive outcomes from their needed therapy. However, it’s estimated that nearly half of the 3.2 billion medications prescribed in the United States remain unfilled every year or aren’t taken as prescribed, resulting in large numbers of patients that are are not adhering to their medication plans. Nonadherence of prescribed medication results in 33 to 69 percent of hospital admissions and approximately 125,000 preventable deaths per year.
While there are many reasons that contribute to nonadherence, lengthened time-to-therapy is a prominent factor. The wide gap between the time patients are prescribed medication to when they first receive their medication is a primary cause for specialty medication non-adherence. Incorporating technology into the prescribing process may be the answer to not only speeding up time-to-therapy, but also improving adherence.
Point-of-care is a crucial tool healthcare providers leverage to assist patients in adhering to treatment. The first step in empowering patients and helping them stay on therapy is acceleration of time to therapy. Some of the challenges associated with this issue can be overcome by simplifying the prescribing process and creating a transparent environment that allows for real-time communication among healthcare providers.
A transition away from linear, paper-based processes to enable multiple healthcare providers to input information in tandem will also accelerate the process. Patient adherence can also be improved by streamlining training and enrollment processes for patients into patient support services. Incorporating healthcare technology applications into Electronic Health Records (EHRs) links all three tactics to ultimately improve adherence.