Tactics to Improve Medication Adherence in Short-Term Shown Effective

A new AHRQ evidence report found consistent evidence that patients were more likely to follow medication instructions if given incentives such as reductions in out-of-pocket prescription drug costs or improvements in prescription drug coverage. Case management and educational interventions were also shown to improve medication adherence. The tactics were shown to be effective for a wide range of chronic illnesses, including asthma, depression, diabetes, and cardiac conditions. Studies estimate that half of all medications for chronic conditions are not taken as prescribed, and medication non-adherence costs the U.S. health care system between $100 billion and $289 billion annually in direct medical costs. The strongest evidence came from studies using medication self-management for asthma patients, collaborative care or case management for patients taking drugs for depression, and pharmacist-led approaches to improve systolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients. According to Meera Viswanathan, Ph.D., who led the team of RTI-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center researchers, there was limited evidence as to whether the approaches studied have broad applicability for chronic conditions and patient populations. They also found limited evidence for long-term medication adherence or health outcomes. The review is part of a larger initiative, Closing the Quality Gap: Revisiting the State of the Science, and builds on an earlier AHRQ series of evidence reports, Closing the Quality Gap: A Critical Analysis of Quality Improvement Strategies. Select to read “Medication Adherence Interventions: Comparative Effectiveness.” An article on this report was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®
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