Improving patient adherence, Improving medical outcomes

Life is tough enough but when a medical condition takes a grip on us or a loved one, it can turn an already wobbly situation, upside down. Ideally, we would be able to comply one hundred percent with all the advice about precautions, medications and follow ups, but the truth is that sometimes we get busy or overwhelmed. What should be easy enough instructions to follow are hard to even remember.

The key to therapy adherence lies in positive self-management. As the former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once reminded prescribers, patients, and pharmacists, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.”

Not following medication regimens is one of the top reasons for poor patient outcomes including failed treatments, serious reactions and sometimes even death. To add to that, failed adherence leads to increased healthcare costs due to readmissions and repeated treatments.

There are ways in which you can improve follow through on medications and treatments for oneself or for a person in your care.

Stay informed

When starting on a new treatment, it is best to get your healthcare provider or pharmacist to give you all the information that you will need. It is ok to request them to explain all potential outcomes. It is also important to ask questions about whether or not to discontinue medications if the condition improves, what the possible side effects are and how to compensate for a missed dose. An open and thorough discussion and meticulous plan on when and how to take medications, use self- injectables etc. can help the patient feel more in control and have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

Synchronize and conquer

Aligning times for various medications and scheduling them for a particular time everyday can help you keep a tab on your tablets. You can even set up alarms  or download an app, such as KnowYourMeds as reminders for yourself or a loved one. In case of chronic conditions, this can be a very reliable habit and become part of daily routine without too much of an effort.

Don’t Judge

Taking care of a loved one when they are unwell is hard enough. It can be frustrating to know that they have not been adhering to their treatment plan. It is easy to lose one’s cool and blame them for not actively participating in their own medical care. In such a situation, it is best to approach the topic with a note of understanding and compassion, and not be judgmental. Saying something like, “I understand sometimes one gets busy and forgets to take one’s medicines. How can I help?” will help open rather than shut doors to communication.

The same applies for slipping up on one’s own treatment plan. Not feeling guilty and allowing for human failings will help you get back on that horse sooner.

Technology to the rescue

We are fortunate to live in times when technology can be of assistance at the mere press of a button. With simple apps such as KnowYourMeds, you can monitor and track medication adherence for yourself or for a loved one. Not only does the app send reminders for when you need to take medications or get a medication refill, it also helps keep records of and track your vitals. These can then be easily shared with the health care provider. The app lets the doctor get visibility into your health trends over a period of time so they can take better informed decisions.

Patient adherence, timely and proactive communication and thorough documentation can all go a long way in improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

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