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How to Reduce Medication Non-Adherence with CCM

Jon-Michial Carter
Written by Jon-Michial Carter

Medication non-adherence threatens the health of thousands of people in the U.S. Multiple studies found that only about 50% of patients with chronic conditions like diabetes take their medication regularly. This trend can worsen patients’ symptoms, cause their overall health to decline, and lead to higher hospital readmissions and healthcare costs. 

Why do patients skip doses or fail to fill their prescriptions? Medication non-adherence has many causes, but three of the most common are:

  1. Cost
  2. Lack of access to care
  3. Not understanding why the medication is necessary

Chronic Care Management can address these concerns by helping Medicare patients find socioeconomic resources, ensuring they have 24/7 access to care, and increasing health literacy. Through these strategies, CCM can decrease medication non-adherence for patients with multiple chronic conditions. 

Address the Challenge of Cost

In one study, 23% of patients said they took less of their prescribed medication due to cost. In fact, cost was the number-one reason patients gave for skipping or decreasing prescription doses.

Chronic Care Management participants have insurance through Medicare, but they may still have out-of-pocket costs for medication. When their care coordinator contacts them each month, they can check on whether the patient is having trouble paying for prescriptions. 

If they’re struggling, the coordinator might direct them to programs that cover the costs of specific types of medicine. The care coordinator can also assist with other socioeconomic needs. ChartSpan’s care coordinators have lists of local resources, like food pantries, clothing closets, housing agencies, and transportation services, that they can share with patients looking for help.

For example, one ChartSpan patient let her care coordinator know she hadn’t filled her prescription because she needed to pay for her daughter’s diabetes treatment. Her care coordinator was able to send her a list of patient support programs that could help pay for her treatment as well as her daughter’s treatment. 

Ensure Patients Have Access to Care

Even patients who can afford their medication may have trouble scheduling appointments for refills or medication adjustments. A study found that patients with good or fair medication adherence–but not excellent adherence–were highly sensitive to how well their care was delivered.  

Patients who have insurance are still likely to stop taking medication or skip doses if they can’t get in touch with their provider. Chronic Care Management can help solve this problem. 

Through CCM, patients have a personalized care coordinator who will reach out to check in on them each month. The coordinator can help them with refills or scheduling appointments. They can also pass questions or information on to the provider if the patient is having trouble reaching them. 

In addition, Chronic Care Management programs include a 24/7 nurse line. If the patient has concerns about the side effects of their medication or questions about when and how to take it, they can call the nurse line, even when their provider’s office is closed, and quickly reach a registered nurse. These benefits give patients a stronger sense of connection to their provider and a more favorable view of how their provider delivers care. 

Explain the Necessity of the Medication 

As healthcare becomes more patient-centric, providers have begun to emphasize medication adherence vs. compliance. Adherence is about the patient making an active choice, while compliance is about following orders from a provider, even if the patient doesn’t fully understand why. 

Sometimes patients stop taking medication because they no longer feel sick or feel their condition is under control. But skipping or discontinuing medication can often cause symptoms to worsen over time. If patients understand the effect the medication has on their body and the potential side effects if it’s discontinued, they’re less likely to engage in medication non-adherence.

Providers serve so many patients each day that they may not always have time to fully explain why a specific medication is important or how it will help the patient manage their condition. A care management program can fill in these gaps.

When care coordinators call patients each month, they might talk to them about how the patients are feeling and whether they have questions about their medications or conditions. The coordinator can then follow up with educational resources via email, patient portal, or mail. They can also alert the provider’s office to questions the patient had. 

Talking about a patient’s personal goals also helps them understand why it’s important to continue taking medication. Care coordinators work with patients to set care goals and build care plans that are meaningful to them. If a patient understands that taking medication will help them reach a goal they’ve set for themselves, they’re more likely to take it as prescribed. 

Chronic Care Management Can Help Prevent Medication Non-Adherence

Medication non-adherence can have a devastating impact on patients’ long-term health and lead to higher healthcare costs and hospital readmissions. If providers want to lower rates of non-adherence, they need to help patients afford their medications, offer accessible, readily available care, and educate patients on the benefits of their medication. 

Chronic Care Management can help providers with these goals. If cost is a concern, care coordinators can direct patients to resources to help them pay for medication. They can also help with medication refills and appointment setting. ChartSpan’s CCM program includes nurses who are available to speak on the phone 24/7 and care coordinators who can provide educational resources via email, mail, or patient portal. 

Under CCM, care coordinators and providers work together to help patients access, pay for, and understand the importance of their medication, so every patient receives the consistent, optimized treatment they deserve.

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