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Why Patients don’t fill out their Prescriptions – a Lesson in Patient Education

In the USA alone, physicians write out 3.8 billion prescriptions annually. However, research suggests that 22-28% of all prescriptions are not filled out. This is not only a threat to patient outcomes, but also a major headache for HCPs, and finally, pharma brands. Why aren’t patients filling out their subscriptions? Lack of adherence is one of the biggest problems in modern medicine, resulting in at least 100,000 deaths every year. Here are some of the reasons why this is happening, as well as ways to improve it with patient education.

Patients just don’t like filling out prescriptions

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Adhering to your prescription may seem like a straightforward thing to physicians. However, patients aren’t so keen on taking their prescribed drugs. In fact, research has shown that 47% of surveyed people said they would rather take out the trash than take the meds prescribed to them. Skipping a dose or completely stopping with medication is incredibly simple to do. What’s more, it’s a taboo topic that is rarely discussed anywhere outside the physician’s office. And within the office, very few patients will admit to not filling out their prescriptions and taking their medication.

Because of the costs

As with many issues, the root of the problem can be traced down to one simple thing – money. For 8% of patients in the USA, they did not take their prescribed medication because they wanted to save money. In fact, some patients simply ask their physician to help them out. 15.1% of patients in the USA will ask their physician to prescribe them an alternative medication that costs less. Those who really love to take risks turn to alternative therapies. Only 4.2% of patients resort to this method. However, on population size as vast as the USA, that is a large number of people.

How to get patients to fill out their prescriptions

On the road to combating non-adherence, the first obstacle Is making patients fill out their prescriptions. Instead of tackling adherence problems head-on, it’s best to attack the problem at its roots.

Increase contact with physicians

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it was shown that physicians can directly influence patient behavior in one simple way. Namely, they just have to increase contact with patients.

According to research, those patients who had more visits with their physician had a higher likelihood of filling their prescriptions. What’s more, one of the highest factors in increasing adherence was increasing the number of follow-up visits after the prescription. This is one of the staples of patient-centric medicine and with increasingly busy physician schedules, it is not an easy task to accomplish. However, with the alternative being poor patient outcomes and high mortality rates, it is a necessity, rather than an option.

Improve patient education

As multiple studies have shown, it’s really difficult to understand the rationale behind the lack of patients’ adherence. However, much of it can be traced to poor health literacy. Assuming that the average patient cares for their well-being, the problem is in patients’ understanding. Namely, they do not understand their condition, diagnosis, and treatment. Unfortunately, the weight of this burden lies on physicians once more.

One of the easiest ways to tackle non-adherence and get more prescriptions filled out is by using video animations. With a solution such as MedExplainer, physicians can boost adherence effortlessly. Instead of relying on the spoken word, physicians can simply show an animated video to their patients. With animation, you can quickly explain your patients’ diagnosis and course of treatment. A physician’s spoken word remains in the office only. On the other hand, you can share videos through emails and websites and patients can view them on their phones at all times.

If you want a more tangible way to improve patient education, you can do it with posters. A solution such as MedPoster allows you to create customized medical illustrations that help patients understand their disease and course of treatment. You can print out posters as pamphlets or make large copies for your office for maximum exposure.

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