White Paper – Adherence

Problems taking your medications as prescribed?

Did you know that three out of four Americans
struggle with taking medication according to the
prescribed dose, time, frequency or directions?
A breakdown in any of these prescription elements
is known as non-adherence, and there are many
reasons for this to occur. It could be forgetfulness,
issues with being able to afford medications, or
side effects that the medications cause among
many others. This problem is common, and it is
one that plagues the health care system.
Non-adherence costs the health care system
approximately $300 billion in extra hospital stays,
doctors visits, and emergency room visits, and is
considered to be one of the biggest avoidable
burdens to the system. It has been shown that
adherence decreases when patients are on multiple
medications, multiple times per day. With
reimbursement models changing, adherence is
going to be a big area of focus in the coming years
in order to increase patient outcomes, and
pharmacy is at the forefront.

In addition to raising health system costs,
non-adherence also leads to increased costs or
further health problems to the patient. According
to Prescriptions for America, at least 125,000
Americans die each year due to poor medication
adherence. By not taking medications properly,
one is not able to achieve the projected goals of
therapy. This may lead to improper dosing of
medications, possible increased side effects,
disease progression, and possible addition of
other medications to try and achieve those
treatment goals. All of this could lead to more
copays, more doctors office visits, and possibly
more hospitalizations.

Problems taking your medications as prescribed? (Continued)

To combat non-adherence, pharmacies around the country are developing patient specific packaging to help ensure that patients are able to take their medications as prescribed. At Auburn Pharmacy, increasing a patients adherence to their medications is one of the main goals. This is why a new packaging service called EZ Med has been started. EZ Med packs are medication cards that are divided into different time of day packaging. There will be a card with all morning medications for the day in one pocket of the card, then another card for afternoon, and one for evening, given that is the patients’ dosing schedule. Each pocket is easy to punch out of the card, one day at a time. This helps patients remember if they have taken their medications, and to ensure that all medications that were supposed to be taken for the day are actually taken. Each card is custom tailored to the patient, and what their medication needs may be. This also allows all medication refills to be done at the same time, which in turn helps patients budget for their medications more accurately. For the patient, this convenient packaging will help alleviate the burden of remembering to take medications on time. It could also take some of the stress off family members to know that their loved ones medications are properly packaged into convenient daily timed doses.

If you are having difficulties taking your medications as prescribed, talk to the staff at Auburn Pharmacy to see if EZ Med packaging is for you.

Charyne Tovar
KU School of Pharmacy candidate in 2017