Managed Healthcare Executive Article

There is a nice article that appeared in the latest Managed Healthcare Executive magazine about non-compliance with a focus on behavioral health. Mari Edlin is the author and has written numerous articles for them.

I bring it up both because I talked to Mari and got a good quote from her in the article, but also because I think it is such a great example of why patient communications are so important. Although we would all like to believe that we pay attention to all the details of the product information (i.e., side effects), the reality is that we become much more aware of the medication once we start taking it. I believe some compliance issues could be addressed by quick follow-up with the patient.

  • For drugs which take time to take effect, right after the patient begins therapy, reach out to them and remind them that it can take time for the effects of the drug to take place.
  • Or, if it is a drug with significant side effects, reach out to them and remind them of the benefits of sticking with therapy so that they don’t give up due to the side effects.
  • Or, in other cases, they may need to titrate to a different dosage so reach out to them and capture some information about how their feeling on the medication.

From the facts I pulled from a while ago, the number one reason for non-compliance was “I forgot”. Combine that with the Caremark report showing that only 25% of people with a disease actually end up on the medication, and you have a real issue for us to address. I think for people with depression, ADD, bi-polar disease, and other behavioral health issues this has the added complexity of using controlled substances and medications that ultimately are affecting your mind.

“Medication adherence is driven by two significant factors,” says George Van Antwerp, vice president, outsourcing and professional services, Silverlink Communications Inc., a Boston-based company providing outreach to patients in their homes. “First is the patients’ view of prescriptions and belief in their ability to improve their health. Second, there are the experiential impacts of the regimen, such as realizing an immediate gain in health, the complexity of the therapy, the magnitude of the side effects and the cost to the patient.

“Since diagnosis of behavioral health conditions is not an exact science and the use of the medications can affect an individual’s behavior in different ways, several new complexities join the adherence discussion,” Van Antwerp continues. “Some patients with depression who have been prescribed an antidepressant, for example, may be thinking they should be feeling better very quickly. This is the kind of situation in which a patient can be reminded that it often takes a few weeks for the medication to begin working.”

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One Response to “Managed Healthcare Executive Article”

  1. Great quote. I agree that with behavioral health conditions, medication adherence and constant communication between prescribing doctor and patient is key, especially when starting a new medication. If a patient is depressed and starting a new medication, there is that belief that “hey, after I take this pill, everything will be alright!”. But that is just not the case.

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