Lack of compliance with medications is a key driver for hospital readmissions
Almost 133 million Americans suffer from a chronic disease. This population increases each year. Many of these diseases are managed effectively by prescription medications. The problem, however, is that patients often do not take their medications as prescribed by the physician for a variety of reasons. An American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) webcast “Hospital to Home-efforts at Reducing Hospital Readmissions” reports that:
- 69% of patients are non -compliant with meds
- 45% of patients have inadequate knowledge of medications
- 42% of patients are unable to self -manage their care
Lack of compliance with medications is a key driver for hospital readmissions across all measures of the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP); Heart Failure, Pneumonia, Acute Myocardial Infarction, Total Hip/Knee Replacement. Medication management, particularly during the transition from hospital discharge to the next level of care or home, is an important step to avoid potentially costly errors and adverse events.
The goal of medication management is to obtain and maintain an accurate and complete medication list for the patient across the continuum of care. This is a continuous process and the home medication list is the foundation from which it is built. A complete and accurate list that includes all medications, including over the counter medications, medication dosages, and frequency of administration is essential. All medications should be confirmed with the prescriber as well as the patient and/or caregiver.
Emphasis on medication management in the home should begin while patients are still in the hospital. Patients should be encouraged to participate in the medication management process to learn the medications they should continue and the over the counter medications they should avoid, as well as when to contact their primary care provider or pharmacist.
Hospitals should consider involving community pharmacists by inviting them into the discussion. Community pharmacists may see patients more frequently than a primary care provider and often provides additional “touch points” when patients pick up prescriptions or refills. Community pharmacists often know if patients are refilling prescriptions on time and provide an invaluable service by educating patients on their medications and potential adverse events. Pharmacists are also often aware of challenges the patient and/or caregiver are having paying for medications and may be able to recommend alternative agents or provide assistance obtaining insurance approval.
Communication between patients and pharmacists provides a unique opportunity to partner with the physician in supporting patients and/or caregivers and provides valuable information on medication adherence and barriers to successful medication management.
Reducing hospitals readmissions takes a village; identifying opportunities to enhance compliance with medications and partnering with valuable resources are key to readmission reduction.