It is considered as a black mark on a patient’s chart. Being labeled as a noncompliant patient basically sends the message that no matter what medical instructions a physician gives you, you will not abide. A recent post by Dr. Danielle Ofri, associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine and editor in chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, discusses what it truly means to be noncompliant and how the issue of noncompliance could be better handled.
Dr. Ofri quotes the example that a hypothetical medical chart was constructed for a 67-year-old patient with diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. In order to remain truly compliant, the patient would have more than 3,000 behaviors to tend throughout the course of a year! These include anything from taking medication as prescribed to exercising three or four days a week to attending recommended checkups. Day in and day out (for some reason medical issues do not like to take time off), the patient must turn instructions into habit so that they may remain compliant.
The question needs to be asked, what can we do as Healthcare and Pharma professionals to improve medical adherence? This could potentially be a multi-billion dollar question as improved medical adherence would directly impact prescription drug sales and provide new avenues for healthcare companies to facilitate and monetize physician-patient dialogue. Now that smartphones and apps seem to be within arms length of almost everyone, we believe one key strategy will be to develop apps that allow patients and physicians to monitor key stats such as daily caloric intake and provide the ability to set reminders to adhere to a prescribed plan (see Prescription Smartphone Apps for Medication Adherence).
However, this is just the beginning. Improving adherence will require input and effort by everyone involved. It is important for the Healthcare and Pharma industries to understand that adherence can be a “complicated balancing act” for patients. Particular issues in a patient’s therapy may trump others and professionals in Healthcare and Pharma need to recognize this so that a prioritized plan can be developed. Together we can develop strategies that improve medication adherence, and with this improvement, everyone will be better off.