Medication adherence refers to practice of following recommendations made by medical professionals or other health experts mostly relating to medication. Many people find it difficult to follow through recommendations and interventions that have been proposed by health care professionals. Today the management of many health conditions may require use of complex, intrusive and unpleasant treatment plans (Huprich 364). Adherence of these treatment plans often has a significant impact on the health of the individual. However, most people find it difficult to follow these plans even when they are aware of the benefits of adherence and outcomes of non-adherence. For example, the management of diabetes usually involves monitoring of blood glucose levels, food intake and in many cases insulin administration (Huprich 364). However non-adherence to insulin administration and dietary recommendations has been reported to occur among diabetic patients. Medical recommendations and interventions refer to medical advice, medication, physiotherapy exercises as well as counseling and therapy courses. There are several reasons cited by patients for not adhering to medical recommendations and intervention. As a result numerous researches on the subject have been conducted to determine various ways that can be used to address the issue of medication adherence. The most promising method of improving medication adherence is the use of technology and devices.
Barriers to medication adherence
Psychological, biological, and sociocultural factors influence adherence to medical recommendations and interventions (Kurosu 454). Tackling the barriers to medication adherence will positively increase compliance to medical interventions thereby improving the health of an individual. The known barriers to medication adherence can be separated into the following categories.
Inadequate health literacy
Medication adherence tends to improve with the patients knowledge of the basic health information necessary for making appropriate health decisions. The US department of education survey estimates that only 36% of the American population has basic health literacy (Burley 2007). Medication adherence tends to improve with patients’ basic understanding of the interventions being used. Stakeholders such as family members/caregivers, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies usually have a direct/direct role in influencing the patients knowledge on medical interventions and promoting adherence. For example health care professional should ensure that the patient or family member can read and understand any written instructions.
It is estimated that about 14 million American adults with chronic conditions cannot afford their prescriptions (Burley 2007). Even those who are working and insures privately have problems paying for their medication. Determining whether patients have financial problems which deter them from adherence can be difficult. Financial burdens or change of insurance can make it difficult for patients to cater for their needs.
Cultural and religious differences
Cultural differences contribute greatly to medication non-adherence. This is usually occurs where the physical illness is asymptomatic. The patient may avoid taking medication or follow the physician advice simply because they do not feel sick (Burley 2007). In some cases they may postpone care until they feel sick and seek for health care after their ailment has indicated long term complications. Religious beliefs can also influence medication adherence. For example during the period of ramadhan Muslims generally undergo fasting and may be reluctant to take medication as well (Burley 2007).
Other barriers to medication adherence in America may include imperfect drug Regimens cognitive impairments and challenges in managing multiple prescriptions (Kurosu, 454). The main way of discovering and managing these barriers is through establishing effective means of communicating amongst the relevant stakeholders.
Strategies used to improve medication adherence
There have been a variety of strategies that have been used to reduce the rate of medication non-adherence with an aim of eliminating the negative effects. Improving medication adherence is a multifaceted approach which involves all stakeholders (Burley 2007). Today, technology is being used to enhance medication adherence. Technology employed could be interactive or can simply act as a reminder to the patient on medication on time (NABP, 2010). Currently technology has been employed mainly in development of friendly devices which help the patient with drug adherence. The use of devices has specifically been successful among the elderly patients. Some of the devices are interactive whereby they help patients get drug refills and other medication. Examples of dispensers include the auto dispenser, water sensing canister systems, self reporting blister pack, pill station, the sim pill and vitality (senticare, 2010). These are brand names for various medication devices that are available in the US market. These devices are very effective in helping the patient adhere to medication hence enabling quick recovery and better health. The choice of a device is determined by the user’s budget and the type of functions that he/she wants performed by the device.
Benefits of medication adherence
There are numerous benefits of medication adherence. Patients who are able to follow medical recommendations and interventions benefit most because they are able to manage the underlying conditions easily. In addition when patients fail to follow the guidelines provided the underlying conditions become more serious which could lead to worsening of the condition or even death. Usually when the condition worsens the patient may be subjected to more costly solutions in order to manage the situation (Walker 2010). On the other hand professionals also stand to benefit from increased medication adherence. This is because adherence influences the outcome of medical interventions. Medical professionals cannot be able to project outcomes in cases where patients do not follow medical provisions. In addition they stand to benefit by involving patients in making medical decisions (NABP, 2010) In the long run lesser time and resources awe spent where patients follow the proposed medical interventions. Moreover some of the devices enable communication between the patient with pharmacist and the doctor. Therefore the patient can easily communicate with them incase he/she cannot follow the prescription.
Use of technology in improving medication adherence
Today health care facilities are adopting new technologies that enable and improve the services offered. There are a wide range of medication devices that are controlled by the FDA. Manufacturers of these products have also started the production of software which aid faster communication between the patients, pharmacists and other health care professionals. Development of software and the regulation of the devices developed are very important in improving the services offered.
Medication non-adherence can result to deterioration and worsening of an illness and could also result to death. Therefore there is need to develop effective strategies which encourage medication adherence. Patients, doctors and pharmacist benefit from effective medication adherence. Currently the use of technology has been proven beneficial in promoting medication adherence. There are numerous devices that serve as reminders for medication time as well as providing other interactive services. The use of these devices should be encouraged especially for those people who find it difficult to follow the physician’s recommendations and medication. Communication among all stakeholders should also be encouraged in order to ensure that the patient is able to follow medical requirements and other recommendations.