This is the seventh and final installation of our “Overcoming Barriers to Medication Adherence” blog series. Read our introductory blog post to learn the common characteristics of medication non-adherence and how to identify the patient-level barriers to adherence.
Many believe, or assume, that the high cost of prescriptions is the primary factor that leads to medication non-adherence. However, Health Dialog’s research shows that cost may not be as prohibitive as other barriers, such as time management skills or provider-related issues. Additionally, we found that many consumers may not actually prioritize spending their money on medications over other lifestyle expenses. In a recent Twitter poll, we asked our consumer audience what they would buy if they could only afford one of the following: a smartphone, coffee, internet access, or their prescribed medications. Many consumers (37%) chose their smartphone above all else, including prescribed medications (which was prioritized by 25% of our audience). Internet access came in at a close third place with 23% of the votes and coffee at 15%.
Assessing whether cost constraints are actually impacting medication adherence can also be challenging. For instance, some patients may be too embarrassed to admit to their providers that they can’t afford their medications. Health Dialog’s coaches are specifically trained to ask questions that help uncover clues (such as specific word cues used by patients) that point to the true barrier to medication adherence. This investigative approach is especially helpful when dealing with patients who struggle to pay for their prescriptions but may not want to admit it.
When a coach learns that financial and cost constraints are preventing patients from sticking with a medication regimen, they may suggest the following:
- Consider asking the provider for samples or coupons for medications
- Increase prescription to a 90-day supply instead of 30-day supply to reduce co-pays
- Suggest mail order service to prevent trips to the pharmacy (if costly transportation is part of the issue)
- Suggest other cost reduction resources, such as: