Adherence and compliance are commonly used terms when referring to patients taking their medications as prescribed. While both of these words have their own connotation, one term suggests a more collaborative effort. Concordance implies that patients and doctors have an interactive dialogue, which produces a mutual understanding of treatment regimens thereby increasing the likelihood of adherence. While prescribers and pharmacists would be ideal advocates of medication concordance, they are often unable to provide the necessary dialogue because of time constraints. Observant of this lapse in care, initiatives around the nation have begun to embark on improving adherence.
One initiative is the Script Your Future campaign launched by the National Consumers League, which aims to spread awareness about medication non-adherence. Script Your Future shapes an integrated approach by incorporating various health care providers with a number of public and private partners to address the issue comprehensively. The campaign also provides adherence tools, action plans and other resources to both the patient and the provider to improve adherence. Aside from initiatives like Script Your Future, medication adherence has become integral component in many national efforts, including Million HeartsTM and the National Council on Patient Information and Education. Such programs recognize that the success of patients adhering to medications is based on interaction and patient empowerment.
What is especially encouraging about campaigns like these is that they provide a great opportunity for student pharmacists to get involved and expand their knowledge about medication adherence. Employing pharmacy students in this effort sheds light on a viable solution to address the issue that many clinicians simply do not have the time for. Pharmacy schools around the nation have even teamed up with other health care disciplines to take on the challenge of creating innovative methods to promote adherence. Recently, a research study found that pharmacy students are not always getting enough education on adherence while in school. By engaging and motivating students to come up with new ideas to tackle medication non-adherence, students are able to develop their own understanding while helping patients at the same time.
As initiatives around the nation continue to deploy this reserve of medication adherence activists, we see a new way to achieve clinician-patient relationships that will be increasingly concordant without
increasing the burden on the provider. What can we take away from all of this? The tools are there; the people are there; the interest in patient care is there. It is now up to the current clinicians to amalgamate these forces to produce a harmonious solution to medication non-adherence.
Anita A. Pothen, PharmD ‘14