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Close up of female holding several pills in one hand and glass of water in the other; adherence challenges concept

Medication Adherence: Using Data to Spot Adherence Challenges

Patient adherence to treatment protocols is essential to patients’ health and long-term outcomes. It’s also essential for providers and researchers, for whom data on rare diseases in particular can be difficult to obtain.

Adherence challenges during treatment can be identified early enough for intervention through use of data. Data collection during diagnosis and treatment can help providers identify the warning signs of patient dropout. By collecting data in a single centralized platform, providers, insurers and other participants in patient care can gather insights and respond more effectively.

Why Do Patients Drop Out?

The reasons patients skip treatments or stop participating in treatment protocols are as varied as the patients, conditions and treatments themselves. Yet several broad themes emerge in studies of patient non-adherence.

In a 2022 article in Frontiers in Rehabilitation Science, Maiken Bay Ravin and fellow researchers examined dropout rates among ischaemic heart disease patients. They found four main reasons these patients choose to forego rehabilitation and treatment:

  • Challenges with the cardiac rehabilitation program itself, like a failure to understand how to follow the program or an aversion stemming from previous poor experiences with rehabilitation.
  • Logistical issues, such as lack of transportation or insurance hurdles.
  • Intrapersonal problems, including a lack of engagement and discomfort with the treatment regimen.
  • Clinical factors, like medication side effects and comorbid conditions.

Some conditions tend to result in higher non-adherence rates among patients than others. A 2022 study by HyunChul Youn and fellow researchers in the Annals of General Psychiatry, for example, noted that patients with bipolar disorder may have non-adherence rates of 30 to 50 percent when it comes to taking — or failing to take — their medications.

In the case of bipolar disorder, non-adherence to medication schedules may result in “aggravation, [bipolar disorder] recurrence, emergency room visits, re-hospitalization, and poor psychosocial outcomes,” write Youn and the research team. Other conditions produce their own sets of adverse results linked to non-adherence to medication regimens. In all cases, patients who don’t stick to their medications risk poorer outcomes than patients who do.

Healthcare professional puts hand on patient's shoulder; adherence challenges concept

How Integrated Data Analysis Helps Spot Adherence Challenges

Many studies have identified issues with spotting adherence problems before they occur. Youn, et al. note, for example, that patient self-reporting does not produce a reliable set of data on its own. Providers who wait for follow-up appointments to gather information, however, may be missing opportunities to intervene before patients drop out of treatment.

In an article in Trials, Jennifer B. Levin and fellow researchers found that a multimodal approach to adherence threats helped more patients with bipolar disorder stay on their medications. The researchers found that “there is no single approach that has superior adherence enhancement.” They also found that more data is needed to better understand non-adherence issues, and that digital tools can support adherence for patients.

One way to address all three findings is through a single integrated treatment management platform.

A treatment management platform connects patients, providers, insurers and other participants in one digital location and through one interface. The platform allows for multimodal approaches to patient education and assistance. It centralizes data collection, allowing for more streamlined data analysis. It helps patients communicate more easily, and it helps ensure that patients receive the type of support they need when they need it.

Patients experiencing side effects, for instance, may need help from a healthcare provider or a pharmacist. A patient at risk of stopping medication due to financial issues, on the other hand, may need to speak to an insurer or a third party who can help with financial support.

When data is collected in one location, through one platform, these issues in the flow of care can be spotted more quickly. Once spotted, they can be addressed by the right professional. A more prompt response may resolve adherence challenges before patients take the matter into their own hands — and disappear from treatment.

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