Five Ways to Improve Patient Adherence in Your Specialty Pharmacy
As specialty medication prices continue to soar, specialty pharmacies are under increasing pressure to prove to payers that patients are getting better over the course of treatment. As a result, specialty pharmacies must work closely with patients to ensure adherence so that outcomes can be evaluated and correctly reported to payers.
Follow these five tips to help your patients achieve a high level of medication adherence.
- Provide funding assistance options: When patients see the out-of-pocket costs of their therapies, they may experience “sticker shock,” which can interfere with adherence rates because patients may want to skip doses to make the medication last longer. To counteract that, identify funding assistance programs that may be able to reduce the financial burden. Software tools are available to identify funding programs for patients. If patients know they can afford to take their medications as prescribed, adherence rates are likely to increase.
- Improve patient education: There are many factors that can affect adherence, including misunderstanding of how to administer treatment, denial that treatment is required, worries about side effects as well as simply forgetting. However, by providing patients with information that addresses these issues and helping them understand the importance of their therapies, you can improve adherence. Prior to treatment, set up a training and communication plan, so that patients have all the information they need about their treatments and whom to contact if they have issues during treatment. Taking the time to educate patients prior to treatment empowers them to become part of the treatment plan.
- Reach out to patients often over the course of treatment: The most common cause of nonadherence is forgetting. Inconvenience is also a factor, especially for those medications that have specific storage requirements or complex dosing. Therefore, pharmacies should regularly check in with patients to ask about adherence, complications, side effects, and other concerns. Take clear clinical notes about past symptoms and current issues, which will help you compare and assess adverse events. In addition, ask patients if they have any upcoming events that could interfere with treatments, such as vacation, and work with patients to create plans to continue treatment under any circumstances. Automated software tools can help manage the patient monitoring and check-ins with auto-scheduled reminders so that patients are never missed or forgotten for routine follow ups. Auto-scheduled phone calls and text reminders are also great ways to keep patients engaged during their treatment and require little effort from your team.
- Reduce the occurrence of adverse events: Evaluate all the medications that each patient is currently taking to avoid dangerous interactions and other issues related to the treatment of multiple conditions by different practitioners. In addition, be sure your patients understand which reactions are normal and which are abnormal and which may require medical intervention. Consulting services can be also arranged for patients so that adverse reactions are not a continued issue.
- Increase engagement with a patient portal: Most likely, you have access, often via your software vendor, to a site that you can set up for your customers to use for prescription viewing, refill requests, and delivery monitoring. Using this portal may help your patients avoid lapses in their medications, especially if your pharmacy delivers the drugs directly to your patients’ doors. And if your software application tracks your deliveries, you can be sure the medications arrive on time.
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If your adherence rates are near the 50% average, there are ways you can make significant improvements. Learn how CareTend can help.