What We’re Reading – Patient non-compliance adds millions to health care costs

Patient non compliance with medications adds as much as $317 million to the nation’s health bill. The issues contributing to patients’ failure to take their meds range from cost (16%) to worry about the medication itself (15%), but by far the most common reason is forgetfulness. According to this article, 69% of patients reported forgetting to take their medications as well as forgetting that they forgot!

Obviously, this problem has ramifications as patients’ conditions can quickly worsen and/or lead to other illnesses – a vicious cycle of expense and disease. The price tag is greater than what we spend treating cancer, diabetes and congestive heart failure combined.

So how do you help patients remember to take their medications? This article summarizes Express Scripts’ new computer program that helps providers predict which patients will be non-compliant. This allows the Pharmacy Benefit Company to identify other resources to help the patients comply with treatment regimens. The results of a recent pilot project aren’t conclusive, but the company is hopeful. During the pilot, the Express Scripts team was able to – for example – put the patient with a medication concern in direct contact with a pharmacist to allay any misgivings.

Finally, patients will be informed of payment assistance programs or other low-cost alternatives. This summer, Express Scripts will begin offering the program to employers and focus on patients with specific illness, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis. In addition, with the employer’s permission, the company can call patients with a medication reminder.

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