Medication non-compliance or non-adherence is a major health problem for patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare system. It is the act of not complying with one’s treatment plan—for example not taking the right dose, not filling prescriptions, or abandoning treatment altogether.
According to studies, about 50% of patients do not adhere to their treatment plan and do not take their meds as prescribed. There are many reasons why patients do this, as well as factors that can influence their non-adherence. However, in many cases, the main culprit to patient non-adherence is low health literacy and communication barriers.
Most patients need an understanding of their prescriptions and their importance to their health. Without it, many will do health-destructive behaviors or forgot their medications because:
- Patients may not know the purpose of their medication.
- They do not understand the instructions on how to take it.
- They are afraid of the side effects.
- They don’t know how the drug may influence their treatment and overall health.
Lack of medication education is just one of the reasons for patient non-adherence and non-compliance. But as healthcare providers, you have the power to become a solution and help patients become more involved and knowledgeable about their treatment plans.
There are at least 5 benefits of doctor-to-patient medication education:
1. Significantly enhances patient health
Many patients with chronic illness take at least three or more medications daily to reduce their symptoms and manage the condition. However, taking many different kinds of medicines per day without understanding how it works increases one’s risk for noncompliance, especially when the costs start to build up.
Here’s where medication education becomes crucial. Physicians should take the time to discuss the importance of specific medications to their patients to improve adherence and compliance. Some important points you can touch on include the following:
- What the medication does and what it is intended to treat.
- Possible side effects of not taking or suddenly discontinuing the drug.
- The expected outcome of regularly taking the medicine.
- Proper administration instructions.
- Warnings and contraindications.
- Side effects to expect and what to do in case of emergencies.
Understanding these factors gives patients the power to manage and care for their health, thus reducing the changes of hospitalizations or readmissions. Once there is medication compliance and adherence to the treatment plan, then there’s a huge chance of improving the patient’s health over time.
2. Avoid medication errors
Medication errors can happen in different areas of medication handling and dispensing for various reasons. Many factors are at play, but there’s no denying that human error still plays a role in these mishaps.
Although massive changes are already being implemented to improve the healthcare system, patient education still proves to be vital. Educating patients about their medications empowers them to become more transparent and ask questions when necessary.
Moreover, knowing key details about the drugs they are taking will help protect them from errors that can become detrimental to their health.
3. Help patients make informed choices
Chronic or long-term illnesses require regular maintenance drugs to prevent the condition from worsening. Over time, maintenance drugs can also help manage your symptoms and reduce bad episodes.
Unfortunately, a lack of symptoms can cause patients to think that they no longer need their medications. As a result, they might take a lower dose of it or stop taking the drug altogether.
That’s why physicians should make it a point to explain each medication thoroughly to their patients. This way, they would know the potential consequences of stopping the drug, lowering its dose, or not taking it on time. This will also help them understand that their medication exists only to control their chronic condition and not entirely get rid of it.
With this knowledge, they can now make wise decisions regarding their medication and treatment plan.
4. Ability to recognize side effects
All drugs have side effects. However, each patient can experience different types and severities of side effects depending on a lot of factors. So it is the duty of doctors to work with their patients and explain what side effects they should prepare for and how to cope with them.
Once the patient knows the possible side effects of a drug, they can now determine whether a medication is working for them or not. Additionally, knowledge of adverse effects allows patients to recognize undesired effects that may require immediate medical intervention.
5. Improve the doctor-patient relationship
Medication education requires doctors and patients to have a conversation, which involves active listening and speaking on both sides. This type of open communication forges better doctor-patient relationships as physicians demonstrate their empathy and willingness to educate their patients.
Once there’s trust and an established relationship, patients are more likely to follow medication instructions given by their doctor. Patients will also become more transparent and share their concerns about their treatment plans.
Fortunately, physicians can now practice medication education as they interact directly with patients when they include medication dispensing in their practice.
Provide in office dispensing with the help of First Coast Health Solutions
Dispensing medications at the point of care allows physicians to get up close and personal with their patients. It allows an opportunity to discuss the important details of their medications and treatment plan. Plus, you’ll get to empower them with the right knowledge, therefore improving medication compliance and adherence.
Equip yourself and your clinic with the right tools and dispensing software programs by partnering with First Coast Health Solutions. With our dispensing program, your practice will get access to quality medications, prescription monitoring, optimized refill systems, and more.
Contact us now to learn more about our services.
/The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.