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The Behavior Change Puzzle of Medication Non-Adherence

The Behavior Change Puzzle of Medication Non-Adherence

Non-adherence to a prescribed medication regime for chronic disease management is known to lead to poor health outcomes and higher healthcare costs. A number of studies have shown that adherence is usually around 50% or less, even when medications are provided free of charge. What seems to be less clear is how best to address poor adherence; one study points out that most of the current interventions meant to improve adherence rates are too complex or ineffective, and that the research in this field is rife with weaknesses and bias.

But as with most quality improvement initiatives, understanding the source of the problem is an important first step. In this case, identifying the reasons for non-adherence is an important starting point for reducing barriers and improving patient outcomes. Many factors may affect whether a person takes their medications, including the patient themselves, the disease being treated, the health system and team, and the type of therapy involved. One study’s survey of 10,000 patients found that the most cited barrier to taking one’s medications was simply forgetfulness (24%). This was followed by perceived side effects (20%), high drug costs (17%), and a perception that their prescribed medication will have very little effect on their disease (14%).

The same study illustrated the various patient, provider, and external factors that can play a role in medication adherence using the figure below (Figure 1). If any one of these factors were to present a challenge for the patient, then they are at risk of not taking their prescribed medications on time and any related medical issues.

Figure 1.

While some interventions such as pill box aids and electronic reminders have helped patients when forgetfulness is the issue, these do not address factors such as concerns about side effects and medication-related harm, or uncertainty about the importance of taking long-term prescribed medications. These issues have the potential to be addressed through shared decision-making and education from clinical experts such as pharmacists and nurses.

One review analyzed the impact that social determinants of health has on medication adherence. Disadvantageous circumstances in social and living conditions are associated with an increase in chronic disease, and it is believed that these same challenges impact a person’s ability to manage their health. When an individual is facing food insecurity, unemployment, and unstable living conditions, they are sometimes unable to address their health concerns emotionally or financially. The review found that medication adherence was negatively impacted by food insecurity and housing instability, although few studies identified other specific social determinants that influence non-adherence to medications beyond these two. In fact, education, income, and employment status did not significantly correlate with adherence to a medication regime.

The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) would like to hear how your institution is addressing medication non-adherence, especially in the chronic disease patient population. This will be an upcoming topic at a chronic disease management workgroup. Please contact MVC at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com for information about attending.

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Monitoring Chronic Disease Utilizing Social Media and Sensors

Monitoring Chronic Disease Utilizing Social Media and Sensors

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “treating individuals with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of health care costs.” While the number of those living with chronic conditions and the associated costs may be increasing, the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) is committed to providing you with current data around providing the right care, at the right time, at the right cost. Technological advances in healthcare are changing how and where chronic disease care is being delivered, how these patients interact with providers, and how organizations exchange information.

Both diabetes and abnormal blood pressure (BP) are extremely common in chronic disease patients and cause various complications, including an increased risk of cardiovascular events. When thinking about the way in which these chronic diseases should be managed moving forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, technological advances offer promising solutions.  Most devices in the healthcare industry have been digitalized. This advancement allows for routine monitoring using various devices that some patients may already own, such as a smart phone or a smart watch. These devices contain sensors that can be used to obtain information that can then be transmitted straight into the electronic health record (EHR). Other devices that can be used to collect patient information include a glucometer sensor, pulse oximeters, temperature sensors, scales, and many more. However, this method is not without its limitations.

The amount of data that is generated from these devices is vast and not all systems are capable of storing and processing it efficiently for precise and real time monitoring. In order to negate this issue, a framework was recently published that can be seen in Figure 1 below. This framework utilizes the cloud environment along with a large analytics engine layer to help store and process the data. The recently published study identifies the importance of utilizing wearable sensors and social networking platforms in collecting patient data, but identifies the challenges that come with this such as issues with data storage and running correct analyses.

Figure 1. Layers in the proposed healthcare monitoring framework

Chronic disease management patients may use social media platforms in order to seek support or learn new ways in which they may be able to reverse certain symptoms. Other ways in which monitoring is done through social networks include patient and provider conversations through application programming interfaces (APIs). Through these APIs, providers can pick up on tone or social connection status. Through this proposed framework of social media and sensor monitoring, providers can closely monitor chronic disease management patients.

MVC hosts chronic disease management workgroups where collaborative members discuss their current initiatives and connect on ways in which they can work together to better the health of Michigan. If you have any questions about upcoming chronic disease management workgroups, please feel free to contact the coordinating center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com