Improving Medication Adherence

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Improving Medication Adherence

Prescription MedicineMedication adherence is big news today. In recent years, both health care professionals and the media have discussed this topic at length. But what is medication adherence? According to The World Health Organization, medication adherence is defined as “the extent to which a person’s behavior corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider,” and this behavior includes taking medication. When patients fail to take their prescription medications as directed, the health consequences can be devastating. Here are suggested ways that medication adherence can be improved :

1.Patient Education

Often times, a failure to adhere to a medication protocol is simply due to a lack of education. Some patients don’t understand just how important their medication is. For example, it’s not unusual for patients to take antidepressants, only to feel better and stop taking their medication. These patients would be best served by educational materials that explain the reason for the necessity of ongoing compliance. Websites like Script Your Future can help to educate patients with regards to the consequences of non-adherence.


E-prescriptions have proven to improve medication adherence by providing patients with reminders to refill their medication. It’s not uncommon for patients to run out of pills, consider running to the pharmacy and then decide to go “tomorrow.” Tomorrow soon becomes several weeks later, when the patient finally remembers to refill their medication. E-reminders can alert the patient 7 to 14 days before they need to refill their medication, helping these patients adhere to their given protocols. Studies have shown that physicians and pharmacists who utilize E-prescribing software receive better compliance from their patients.

3.Lowering Drug Prices

It’s an unfortunate reality that many patients lack prescription coverage. For these patients, cost can be prohibitive when it comes to adhering to their medication protocol. Lowering the cost of prescription can improve patient compliance by making it possible to afford the medications that they need. When costs of medications are high, pharmacists can offer generic alternatives or direct patients to community programs that may assist in paying for the medication.

4.Clear Instructions

Vicodin PrescriptionFor many older adults, medication instructions can be confusing, thus reducing compliance. By making prescription protocols more clear, adherence will improve. For example, patients on multiple medications may have to take two medications twice a day, one three times a day, one with meals, one on and empty stomach, and so on. By including a schedule of use along with the prescriptions, older adults will be more likely to comply with the medication protocols.


In European countries, drug companies have begun to offer points to patients who respond to reminders. These points serve as an incentive for patients to be compliant with their medication protocols. Points are awarded at the time of refill, in variable numbers, and can be turned in for various rewards. Current rewards include Amazon and iTunes gift cards.

When patients don’t adhere to their medication protocols, no matter the reason, it is ultimately those patients who suffer. There are new and innovative ways to help patients improve their compliance, and these ways have been proven effective. By educating patients, providing clear instructions, and even offering incentives, we can better help patients improve medication adherence.

Tasha Matsumoto is an avid health blogger. If you have an interest in educating patients about their medications, the doctor of pharmacy program from the University of Florida might be exactly what you’re looking for.

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