Medication Adherence Begins with Better Patient Communication
Updated: Oct 14, 2018
Individualized drug therapy is more successful as patient’s adherence improves. Breakdowns in physician-patient communication causes patient dissatisfaction, complaints and poorer health outcomes. Most physicians believe they are effectively monitoring their patients’ conditions by ordering tests, keeping good records, and prescribing medication when needed. However, these processes can become so routine, that one of the most important steps is often the most overlooked. Taking time to explain to patients their course of therapy, and the potential for side-effects and drug-to-drug interactions is the most crucial building block in strong physician-patient relationship.
Caring for and advising your patients with confidence and simplicity can be achieved by a few steps.
Make scheduled appointments matter more
Prepare and be proactive in your communications with patients. Have a few key reminders and clear-cut instructions ready to review. Some patients may not realize that it is important for them to walk through their medications, test results and next steps in any prescribed treatment regimen. While others may believe that as long as they are not contacted by your office, there is nothing to worry about. Make it a habit of routine contact, and with advances in HIPAA compliant mobile and automated communication your office can keep up consistent notifications and check-ins.
Make routine contact a habit, and with advances in HIPAA compliant mobile and automated communication your office can keep up consistent notifications and check-ins.
Take time to break information down
There is often a long-time gap between when a patient is last seen, last tested and their follow-up appointment. Most times weeks have gone by. As a consequence, both you and the patient may have forgotten what was discussed during the last visit, the types of medication prescribed, or tests ordered and why. You may be expecting for some changes in diet, exercise, or following a drug therapy to have occurred, while the patient may not be aware of these expectations, and thus hasn’t made any changes. Patients need an explanation as to what they are taking or expected to change and why. It’s not enough to hand them a sheet of information, which is likely to contain unfamiliar medical terminology and jargon. Taking a few minutes to break down the information, piece by piece, in order to make it easier for your patients to digest can go a long way.
Leave room for you both to ask questions
Allowing time for questions can help you understand factors which influence patient motivations. Once all important matters have been discussed, take the time to ask your patient if he or she has any questions about drug confirmation results, or prescriptions, or other care recommendations. Also, take time and prepare a few questions of your own regarding their home environment, personal stressors, social support and any fears they may have regarding side-effects and drug-to-drug interaction.