As a pharmacy benefit manager, your job is to curate pharmacy prescription benefits plan options and help patients achieve better health outcomes through greater access to appropriate medications. However, this job can be difficult, especially when a large population of elderly patients refuses to take their medications.
Medication nonadherence is a major problem in the United States, accounting for a whopping 30% of wasteful spending. Up to 80% of patients quit their chronic care management plans and medications. Medication nonadherence causes as many as 125,000 deaths every year.
Medication nonadherence is a life-threatening issue, and more needs to be done to solve the problems associated with it. The healthcare industry needs to understand the barriers involved and do more to help patients manage their conditions. Many factors contribute to this nonadherence, so learning how to increase medication compliance in the elderly is vital.
Common Factors That Contribute to Nonadherence
So what exactly is keeping elderly patients from using their medications? Here are some common reasons:
- Memory is a huge factor in noncompliance. After being discharged from a hospital, less than 25% of elderly patients recalled any written information given, and 10% did not recall being given any information about medications at all. Half of patients do not know their medication dosage, and even more do not know the time of day they take them. Many seniors simply forget to take their medications altogether.
- Health issues. Seniors have limited mobility, dexterity, and vision. They may not be able to read the instructions on medication bottles or even get them open. Many elderly patients do not drive, making it challenging to get refills.
- Remembering each one and how and when to take them can be daunting for a person with physical or mental issues.
- Cost is a huge factor for everyone. Americans spend more on prescription drugs than those in other countries. The average costs are roughly $1,200 per person per year. Plus, seniors tend to pay more because they have more prescriptions. This means they are likely paying more than $100 a month, which is a lot of money for someone on a fixed income. Some patients reduce their doses or split pills to stretch their medications as much as possible to avoid costly refills.
- Fear of side effects. Instead of communicating with their doctor, many seniors search online for information about their medications. They may discuss them online with others via social media, which can lead to a lot of anxiety over side effects.
How to Combat Medication Nonadherence
Now that we know why seniors are not taking their medications, how can we resolve this problem? Here are some tips on how to increase medication compliance in the elderly.
- Stay organized and get reminders. Since forgetfulness is a common issue among the elderly, reminders should be used. Those with access to smartphones can get daily texts as reminders to take their medications. Even those without technology can get reminders via old-school methods such as sticky notes and pillboxes. Healthcare providers should work with patients to determine the best route.
- Cut costs. Doctors and pharmacists should work with patients to find ways to cut medication costs. Are there generic versions available? Sometimes subsidies, discounts, and other cost savings are available, especially for certain high-cost prescriptions.
- Address mental barriers. Some patients are too embarrassed to take their medications or they fear dependence. Others may find their medicine too hard to swallow. Communication and providing honest information to patients is a good way for doctors to get patients to take their medications regularly.
Now that you know how to increase medication compliance in the elderly, see how Xevant can help you lower costs and improve health. Xevant offers automated data analytics as well as various forms of reporting for pharmacy benefits organizations.