10 Policy Recommendations to Boost Medication Adherence

The National Council on Patient Information and Education has released an updated report on the state of medication adherence in the United States. The report includes a discussion of the problems both surrounding medication adherence and the rise in medication nonadherence likely resulting from increasing numbers of aging baby boomers in the coming years.

To prevent the increase in healthcare utilization medication nonadherence can cause, the council recommends the following national actions be considered:

1. Prioritize medication adherence at the state and federal levels as a way to reduce the burden of multiple chronic conditions. Medication adherence is not currently an essential component of government initiatives for improving management of chronic disease. 2. Establish patient navigators to assist multiple chronic condition patients with medication adherence. Navigators should be trained specifically in managing patients with multiple chronic conditions. These navigators should be permanent parts of the patient care team.

3. Tailor medication adherence management approaches to individuals with multiple chronic conditions to reduce costs, maximize treatment benefits and minimize patient harm. An example guideline in this model is the American Geriatric Society's principles for treating geriatric patients with three or more diseases.

4. Create incentives for medication adherence education for chronic disease patients. Training and equipping clinicians to appropriately educate these patients will have positive knock-on effects in cost and quality throughout the healthcare system.

5. Eliminate barriers to prescription refills. Focus on consolidating prescription pickup locations and times for those with multiple chronic conditions to facilitate ease of medication adherence.

6. Lower or eliminate patient copayments for the most common medicines used to treat chronic disease. For some patients, these out-of-pocket costs are a significant barrier to medication adherence.

7. Speed up adoption of health information technology for medication adherence. Such technology has the potential to assist the healthcare system in identifying patients unlikely to fill or take their medications.

8. Implement medication adherence as an accreditation measure. Include the outcome-based measure in accreditation processes as a way of verifying institutions have both the infrastructure and staff education necessary to affect medication adherence.

9. Create treatment guidelines for medication management for patients with multiple chronic conditions, focusing on the most common combinations of conditions.

10. Fund research on treatment practices for people with multiple chronic conditions. The majority of medication adherence research is currently focused on patients with single conditions, which cannot be appropriately extrapolated upon for treatment of those with multiple chronic conditions.

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