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A provider explaining a medication to a patient to boost medication adherence
Jun 09

Understanding & Defining Medication Adherence

As more and more states begin to implement regulations for EPCS and PDMP, it is evident that there is a drive for better medication adherence. While EPCS and PDMP focus on reducing opioid abuse and doctor shopping, it still lends to the fact that better medication adherence can help to cut down prescription addiction at the start. Before we jump into tips regarding medication adherence, we should discuss what medication adherence is and what drives nonadherence. Let’s begin.

What is medication adherence?

U.S. Pharmacist states that medication adherence is “the act of taking medication as prescribed by a physician. This includes consistently taking the proper dose, at the correct time, and for the recommended length of time.” Depending on where you look for this definition, you will find a different definition of medication adherence. Each will boil down to a patient taking a medication as prescribed by a physician. Remember this as we move forward.

What causes medication nonadherence?

Now, we need to address medication nonadherence causes before we talk about tips for improved adherence. Nonadherence for prescriptions is different from patient to patient. It is wise for each provider to address any barrier to taking medications with patients prior to prescribing them. Some of these barriers include:

  • Cost of the medication being prescribed.
  • Travel/distance to pharmacy to pick-up the medication.
  • Mistrust in the provider prescribing the medication.
  • Not seeing physical symptoms of the illness they’re being treated for.
  • Fear of addiction, side effects, other.
  • Already taking an abundance of medications.
  • Other…

Factors that lead to a patient not fulfilling a prescription request or not finishing their medication may vary. Building a strong relationship around trust helps to eliminate some of these issues with nonadherence.

Tips for Better Medication Adherence

The first step towards improving medication adherence is knowing the causes of nonadherence, which we have already covered. One way to begin improving adherence is through improved communication efforts. Providers at your practice could begin asking patients through anonymous surveys about what prevents them from finishing or picking up prescriptions. Other ways to improve medication adherence include the following:

  • Patient Education Material: Provide patient education information regarding treatment and prescriptions while the patient is in the exam room. From there, answer any questions they may have. If a patient seems unsure, provide them with tools or access to more information to help them understand their medications.
  • Cost Transparency: Providers who are transparent about medication costs, provide samples or coupons, or find other cost saving measures for patients help improve medication adherence.
  • Text Message Reminders: Whether reminders are through your practice or through their pharmacy, inquire with your patient about ways they can be reminded to fulfill prescriptions that are needed in their treatment plan.
  • Reminders: Encourage patients to use reminder tools they already have and are familiar with to boost their medication adherence. Pro tip: medication dosage containers are an easy, cost effective way to store pills for the week and to ensure a patient only takes what they need to on any given day!

There are a number of tools and software solutions that can help your practice improve medication adherence with your patient base. MicroMD can help. We offer MicroMD e-Prescribing as an integrated or standalone solution that comes equipped with Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefits which enables providers to be transparent about prescription costs. We also offer CDS tools, coupon/sample solutions, and more.

Are you ready to improve medication adherence at your practice? Let us know how we can help your practice today. Visit our website at or call us at 800.624.8832.

About the author,
Savanna Adams

Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.

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