“Medication is one of the most expensive parts of patient care, yet healthcare providers can’t always ensure patients are on the right regimen and taking medication as prescribed,’ according to Sebastian Seiguer, emocha Health’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Resolving medication adherence would radically transform healthcare. This intervention hits multiple endpoints: health outcomes, costs, and the patient’s quality of life.”
Why is taking medication properly a challenge for some patients?
It is a complicated problem. Many people assume the problem is behavioral only, that some patients are just forgetful, but it is not that simple. A medication may not be the best one for the patient, or it might conflict with other medications they are on. There are also social determinants of health. Can they afford medication? Can they access the healthcare system often enough to get or change medication?
When is assessment of medication technique necessary?
For some medications, the administration or technique is as important as the medication itself. Take asthma. Corticosteroids don’t work as well if they are not delivered into the lungs. The breathing technique is not instinctive for human beings. It needs to be taught almost like a physical skill. It is the same for injecting insulin for diabetes. Timing is also important. Each medication and condition are different.
How can solving medication non-adherence lower hospital admissions and ER visits thereby reducing cost of care?
Poor medication adherence leads to 33-69% of hospital re-admissions, and results in a 2.5 times higher chance of a 30-day readmission. For many chronic conditions, medications are a very important part of managing the disease. We know that the medications are effective, clinical trials proved that, but they are only effective if properly taken.
How can increasing medication adherence impact quality metrics?
Medication adherence directly and indirectly impacts a large number of Medicare and Medicaid quality measures, such as medication reconciliation post-discharge, diabetes care – blood sugar control, and asthma medication ratio. All told, medication adherence can influence 12 Medicare Star ratings measures and a wide range of state- specific Medicaid metrics.
What’s the key takeaway?
Using technology and human engagement to resolve medication adherence issues is one of the lowest hanging fruit in healthcare today. The good news is that one solution has been shown to establish a really high rate of adherence, and that is direct observation. emocha has a proven solution that improves the outcomes of people treated with medications by leveraging human engagement and asynchronous technology to directly observe their therapy.
Having a person who is there for the patient, for a certain amount of time, who can make sure they are taking the right medication properly and consistently, until it becomes a habit, is a cornerstone of directly observed therapy. This can take 30 days or 60 days, but it needs to be done until the patient can self-manage. When that is established, monitoring can continue more passively, especially for those having the most trouble, by tracking if they refill their medication every month, for example.
In short, true medication adherence support is not only possible, it is ideal. Improving medication adherence should be a top priority for risk-bearing healthcare entities.