Turns out you have to take the drug for it to work…

Everett C. Koop once said: “drugs don’t work in patients that don’t take them”… wise words…

I think medication noncompliance has several factors involved.

Sometimes it’s as simple as forgetting when and how to take a medication. This is the simplest form of noncompliance to fix. Text messages, watches, reminder alarms, touch-enabled pop-ups, phone calls, etc. can all be used to remind the user that would like to be compliant to take medications on-time and correctly. Pretty easy and not rocket science, nor are many of these technology fixes new by any means.
Other times there are other reasons for noncompliance including:
– patient doesn’t think they need the drugs
– adverse side effects (drug made them have to get up too many times during the night to go to the bathroom, acid reflux, dizziness, etc.)
– lack of transportation to get the refill
– lack of monies to get the refill

The trouble doesn’t necessarily fall with reminding someone to take medications, although, that certainly may be half the battle and the noncompliance issues resolved with that is well worth it. The other factors listed above are the ones that we need to know and it’s not so simple as to know if the patient didn’t take the drug, but so much more importantly it’s WHY….WHY didn’t they take the drug?

If we don’t know why, we cannot fix the problem. If they don’t think they need it, this should be addressed by family members and potentially a physician. Perhaps it could be as simple to remind the patient that this drug is meant to lower your blood pressure or perhaps this drug is to alleviate arthritis pain. If it’s a transportation issue, simply reminding the patient to take the drug will not help. If it’s a side effect issue, we need to intervene and find out if there is an antidote to the issue. For example, if a patient experienced stomach issues, prescribing an antacid along with the prescription could fix the problem and make that patient compliant. If it’s a financial issue, maybe we can get a social service involved. Again, a simple reminder will not the total solution.

We need technology tools that can enable a resident to not only “decline” a medication, but also indicate why so we have a chance at solving the issue at hand. I think there is so much emphasis on only knowing if the meds were taken or not, but we don’t take that extra step to figure out the ANSWER to noncompliance. More intuitive, interactive technology engaging the resident to remind them how and why to take the medication AND enable them to say why they are noncompliant.

Walgreens, CVS…you should be all over this!!

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