Medication adherence continues to be one of the largest problems in the healthcare community. In order to address it, we need to have a better understanding of what medication adherence is, the impact it has on patients and the healthcare community, and how specialty pharmacies can help solve medication adherence.
What Is Medication Adherence?
According to the CDC, mediation adherence is how well a patient complies with the healthcare provider’s recommendation as far as timing, dosage, and frequency of medication taken during prescribed duration. Nonadherence occurs when the patient deviates in any way from the prescribed treatment plan.
For instance, a patient is being non-adherent or noncompliant when they fail to pick up a prescription from their pharmacy. Factors that lead to nonadherence include: forgetting to take medication, skipping doses, taking an incorrect dose, not following directions, and so on. For veterinary patients, this is an especially prevalent problem because they rely completely on their human caretakers. While negligence isn’t always malicious, it can still have a devastating impact on the animal’s health.
The Impact of Nonadherence
Up to 30% of veterinary prescriptions are never filled. This particular type of nonadherence can occur for a variety of reasons: the owner can’t afford the medication, the owner believes their pet is getting better without the medication, or the owner is not able to (or doesn’t believe they can) get the animal to take their medication because of its form or flavor.
Nonadherence impacts the veterinary realm significantly as animals do not have health insurance. Many owners cannot afford the price of veterinary medications or of treatments that could save an animal’s life or improve their wellbeing. No matter the reason for nonadherence to treatment plans, it leads to increased mortality and hospitalization across various disease states.
When a patient’s caregiver waits until the illness or condition progresses to a life-threatening stage, it puts the animal at risk while also costing them – and the vet – more in man hours, medications, and treatments than the original medication may have cost. The cost of nonadherence for veterinarians was over $330 billion in 2013.
Educate your patients on the importance of compliance and point out that while a certain treatment or medication may seem expensive or unnecessary, in the long run it will save them money and keep their pet healthier, longer.
How Can Specialty Pharmacies Help?
Specialty pharmacies are joining the battle against nonadherence. Their ability to custom create medications and dosages helps work around any disabilities or distaste that could cause nonadherence.
Specialty pharmacies also allow for the treatment of complex disease states and challenging therapies because compounding allows for more specified dosing.
For instance, if a feline patient refuses to take a pill form of a medication, they may create a liquid form that can be mixed with wet food. Or if the treatment of a large horse is difficult because of its size, a specialty pharmacy can compound a medication with a higher dose that’s still easy to administer.
In general specialty pharmacies outperform retail and mail order pharmacies because their customized patient services, in addition to the intelligence of a specialty pharmacy staff, allow them to optimize patient outcomes.
Medication adherence continues to be a large problem in the United States in both the human and veterinary realm. It is important that owners feel they can trust their pharmacy and that we allow for affordable treatment of our animals to improve compliance. Adherence programs can never be a one-size-fits-all approach because every patient is different – and everything from examinations to prescriptions should reflect that uniqueness.
Veterinarians and pharmacists alike should be emphasizing proper medication adherence to animal owners. If you have questions about how to find a specialty pharmacy near you, contact EPC to speak with our experienced and knowledgeable staff.