The cost of medication non-compliance and how on-site health clinics can help

When an independent physician prescribes medication for a patient, there is no guarantee that the patient will actually fill the prescription or take the medication as directed. Medication non-compliance – or non-adherence – costs the healthcare system and employers a significant amount of money when patients are adversely affected by not following their physician’s directives.

Recent studies have revealed that the cost of medication non-compliance in the US healthcare system is “between $100-$289 billion every year in direct costs” when patients don’t take their medications correctly. In addition, “Losses in productivity due to health related factors could multiply that by 2.3 times.”

Studies have also shown that “after a health care provider writes a prescription … 20-30% of patients never fill their prescriptions and about 50% of patients don’t take their medications as directed.” Why do some patients decide not to fill a prescription or take their medication? Major factors include the cost of prescription medicine and a lack of understanding as to the need for consistently taking a prescribed medication, particularly for chronic conditions.

Employers might be able to help improve the rate of compliance, reducing the costs of additional healthcare for these patients, especially through their on-site health clinics. One solution is providing a prescription drug plan with a lower deductible or a lower cost per prescription filled, which can help encourage patients to fill those prescriptions.

On-site clinics who use a team approach to healthcare can also contribute to an increased rate of medication compliance. Using technology to send reminders to patients about filling and taking their medication appropriately, particularly for employeepopulations with specific diseases requiring on-going medications for intervention, education, and assistance in maintaining medication regimen compliance” can also help significantly.

Reducing costs, educating patients, and communicating consistently with patients are tools employers can use to help employees better understand why they need to take their medication and to better afford to fill their prescriptions. An increased rate in medication compliance can result in improved benefits for employee and employer, through increased productivity rates and reduced long-term healthcare costs.