Medication Adherence: Challenges for Clinicians

Doctor holding a pill container, explaining the medication to his patient
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Have you ever felt like you can’t get somebody to do something, even after thorough instructions and persistent follow-ups?

If you’re thinking about that time you consistently asked your significant other to take out the trash and they didn’t, you’re not alone.

However, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about clinicians and the intense amount of time and effort they put into helping their patients stick to their prescriptions.

Patients certainly face their fair share of difficulties when trying to adhere to a medication regimen. Clinicians don’t have it much easier, though. Physicians and nurses encounter many challenges regarding medication adherence, and we want to break down what those are and how to solve them.

Medication non-adherence is frustrating

Let’s start by discussing how medication non-adherence affects clinicians. It all boils down to one word: frustration.

When patients don’t take their medications as prescribed, avoidable complications occur. This is frustrating to care teams because they feel as if they wasted their time prescribing the medication. In addition, the medication itself was wasted. Perhaps the biggest reason clinicians get discouraged, though, is because of profitability. In the shift to value-based care, physicians are reimbursed based on their patients’ health status. According to a publication by Jessica Mantel in Cardozo Law Review, “treatment costs mean non-compliant patients will reduce physicians’ income.”

Despite the frustration, clinicians persist

In order to avoid these frustrations, doctors and nurses work tirelessly to motivate their patients to properly manage their prescriptions. They face a lot of difficulties in doing so, but luckily, the Groove Health medication adherence platform can help!

They persist through inaccurate reporting

A major pain point among clinicians is that they have no idea if their patients are as adherent as they report. Doctors and nurses can’t be with their patients every day to monitor their medication intake. This means they must rely on phone calls and surveys – which are often inaccurate – to evaluate a patient’s compliance.

Groove Health provides clinicians with access to real-time medication adherence data that’s more accurate than ever before. Patients receive daily automated medication reminders via the Groove Health mobile app. As soon as a patient marks a medication as “taken,” “skipped,” or “missed” within the app, the Groove Health clinical portal receives and documents that information for their doctor or nurse to see.

They persevere through patient forgetfulness

Now and then, an intake nurse will get a patient that just cannot seem to remember all their medications. Who can blame them? People living with chronic disease have a lot to deal with, including multiple prescriptions.

When this happens, the nurse either must ask a list of prompting questions or dive through pages and pages of documents from previous visits, hoping to fill in the gaps. We simplify this process by making the patient’s medication list, including OTC drugs present in the Groove Health mobile app but not yet present in the EHR – easily accessible in the clinical portal.

They endure long education sessions

Something that gets a lot of attention is patient education – as it should! The best way to get patients engaged in their care is making it so that they understand how their medication works and why it was prescribed over others.

This education includes teaching patients information about the drug itself, how to take it, and what not to mix it with. If you’re a clinician, you know that it also includes having your patients repeat the dosing schedule back to you multiple times.

It’s important to continue thoroughly educating patients, but there are ways to cut down on the amount of time spent doing so. The Groove Health mobile app provides patients with medication info leaflets, auto-populated medication lists, scheduled medication reminders, and even drug interaction alerts. While these features don’t eliminate the need for patients to know their dosing schedule like the back of their hand, they should make clinicians feel better about their patients’ ability to stick to said dosing schedule.

They stick it out through patient tracking

Clinicians tend to be left to their own devices when it comes to tracking their patients. What do we mean by this?

Certain care team members are given the responsibility of documenting a patient’s diagnosis, prescribed medications, and treatment schedule. This is done to ensure a practice has an updated database, which is then used to assist in patient monitoring and follow-ups.

Elizabeth Bettencourt, RN, MSN, OCN® says in The Oncology Nursing Podcast that the oncology practice she works for does not have a system in place for this patient tracking. Because of this, she created an Excel sheet that she keeps on her desktop and consistently updates. While we respect Elizabeth’s dedication and innovation, we’re firm believers in “there’s gotta be a better way.”

Fortunately, there is. The Groove Health medication adherence platform can house all this information within your EHR. Simply update as needed, and not only will that information be easily accessible to all care team members, but your patients’ smartphones will automatically update to reflect the changes, too.

They even carry on despite endless phone calls

Patient monitoring is a big part of chronic disease and usually takes on the form of follow-up calls from doctors or nurses. These calls entail motivational interviewing to see if patients are taking their medications properly.

Patient monitoring can take up a lot of time, and the information that clinicians receive isn’t always accurate. What if we told you there was a system that offers you real-time medication adherence data? And it enables streamlined outreach efforts by prioritizing your least adherent patients? And you can cut your follow-up calls down significantly because of it?

Guess what? The Groove Health platform applies here, too. When patients mark a medication as “taken” in the mobile app, that info is sent to and documented in the clinical portal. If you see within the portal that Patient A is about 87% adherent but Patient B is showing a 54% adherence rate, you’re probably going to touch base with the Patient B first, aren’t you? Our platform gives you the insights that you need to ensure each call goes to the right patient at the right time.

Clinicians are nothing short of heroes, and heroes deserve to be helped

Clinicians have a hard job, no doubt about it. Non-adherence doesn’t make it easier, which we don’t think is fair. When there’s a problem costing health systems time, money, and sanity, someone needs to do something about it. So, Groove Health did.

Look, we’re not here just to sell you on our products. We’re here to help you navigate the challenges of medication non-adherence and inform you that there are ways to address it. If you want more information, we’ve put together a downloadable overview of our platform that you can take with you. Enter your email below to receive it in your inbox, and don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected] with any further questions!

Cover photo by MI Blues Perspective

[i] Mantel, Jessica. “Refusing to Treat Noncompliant Patients Is Bad Medicine.” Cardozo Law Review, cardozolawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/MANTEL.39.1.pdf.

[ii] LeFebvre MSN, RN, AOCN®, Kristine B. “Episode 16: Navigating the Challenges of Oral Chemotherapy.” The Oncology Nursing Podcast. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/oncology-nursing-podcast/the-oncology-nursing-podcast/e/55933104.

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