A seminar put on today the by the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute put its focus on ways to improve patient adherence to prescriptions, citing research that found improved compliance could save nearly $290 billion annually in the United States.
According to research presented by Cambridge, Mass.-based NEHI, formerly the New England Healthcare Institute, patients — especially those with chronic diseases — find multiple barriers to taking medications properly, including cultural, financial and educational. It is estimated that half of all medications prescribed in the United States are taken incorrectly, and 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled.
But Tom Hubbard, senior program director for NEHI, told attendees an effective strategy can be developed for improving patient adherence. He said the two-pronged approach of optimizing a patient’s drug regimen and centering care on patients’ needs engages the patient, and provides the necessary motivation for the patient to follow through on the prescribed therapy.
“Now really is the time to act more conscientiously about this, because there are so many building blocks in place,” Hubbard said. “New Jersey is well positioned in at least a couple of respects. You are the center of innovation — in pharmaceuticals, in particular — and this focus on care coordination … and the potential huge benefits in better health for people and wiping out unnecessary costs.”
Following the research presentation, a panel discussion focused on ways to using the building blocks in place to increase medicine adherence and decrease health care costs.
Tools such as electronic medical records and increased use of quality metrics will help care providers ensure their patients are following through with treatments. But panelists said finding a way to gain patient trust, then encourage patients to be active in their health care, are the most important steps to increasing medication adherence.
“We really have to go out and preach the value of this to people,” said David Knowlton, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, who sat on the panel. “You’ve got the players in the room that carry this message back, and I think that’s very important. The importance of this cannot be overstated. We have people that are actually harming themselves because they’re not taking their medication.”