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Safety and adherence

Tools and Techniques for Improving Medication Adherence

May 14, 2024

Medical professionals, like pharmacists and physicians, work hard to ensure you’re prescribed just the right medication to meet your needs — but finding the right medication is only half of the equation to living a happy, healthy life. 

Arguably, just as important as finding the right medication for you, is ensuring you properly adhere to the guidelines and prescription details as outlined by your pharmacist. By properly practicing medication adherence you will better your chances that your prescription works as intended — and you see improved health outcomes. 

Of course, we’re all human and it can be easier said than done to adhere perfectly to your prescribed medication instructions. Luckily, there are tools and techniques you can use to improve your medication adherence — let’s explore a few ways you can more easily follow your prescription instructions. 

Medication Therapy Management and Patient-Centered Care Techniques

Your pharmacist is so much more than just a medication dispenser — they’re trained to help you successfully manage your medication adherence.

A style of healthcare, patient-centered care, is growing in popularity. It revolves around structuring medical plans and provider teams in a way that is most beneficial for individual patients, their needs, and unique demographic attributes. For pharmacists, this means that they can work very closely with your primary care physician to prescribe medications and design schedules that fit with your lifestyle and unique health needs. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define medication therapy management (MTM) as “a broad range of health care services provided by pharmacists — the medication experts on a patient’s health care team. It allows pharmacists to actively manage patients’ medications and identify, prevent, and resolve medication-related problems. This support helps patients get the most benefit from their medications.” 

When pharmacists provide MTM services like medication therapy reviews, pharmacotherapy consults, anticoagulation management, immunizations, and wellness programs, this increases your chances of adhering to your prescription guidelines.

Smart Medication Bottles

Smart pill bottles are a type of medication storage with sensors and digital components to aide in adherence and safety. For example, a bottle could have sensors in the cap that detect when the bottle is opened. In another, sensors in the bottle weigh the pills inside to determine how much longer the patient has until they need a refill, or if they’ve mistakenly taken too many or too few doses.

If these smart bottles are connected to the internet or apps, they can even possibly text reminders or notify pharmacists/ physicians to follow up with the patient if adherence rates fall below a certain range.

The Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy published a study that found that smart bottle interventions were associated with increased medication adherence and patient satisfaction. In fact, 90% of study participants reported they would use the bottles again if provided for free by their doctor. 

Digital Reminders and Online Refill Requests

One of the most common pitfalls in achieving near-flawless adherence is when it comes time to request refills. Many of us are guilty of forgetting when we need to request refills and extended turn-around times can lead to lapses in medication coverage.

The best way to combat this is through leveraging automatic, digital reminders to refill your medications. Systems, like Nimble, work directly with pharmacies to message patients when it’s time to request a refill from their pharmacist and then enable seamless online checkout. 

No matter what medication you take, it’s important to aim for 100% adherence — and the techniques and tools we mentioned above can help in making that happen. Of course, the best solution is to reach out to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss ways that you specifically can better your prescription adherence.

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