Poor adherence generates higher health care costs and worse health outcomes

A new national survey commissioned by the Partnership for a Healthy America and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, confirms that we have a serious adherence program in America. Two out of three of us are not taking our medicines as prescribed. Prescription medicines are an essential tool in the prevention and management of chronic conditions, Poor adherence generates higher health care costs and even more devastating, more people suffering the consequences of cancer, COPD, diabetes, heart disease, depression and hypertension. Unfortunately tens of thousands of Americans die annually due to poor medication adherence and a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that hospital admissions related to poor medication adherence costs the United States $100 billion per year.

The reasons for high non-adherence rates are personal and result from a combination of social, financial, and behavioral factors. While one intervention may increase adherence for some patients, it not work to improve adherence for others. The Greenberg-Public Opinion Strategies poll, however, revealed that most (58 percent) non-adherent patients would be more likely to take their medication as prescribed if they were more informed about the potential negative health consequences of non-adherence. And the good news is that adhering to prescribed medications has benefits: nine out of 10 patients who adhere describe their health as “good” or “excellent”, while only two-thirds of non-adherent patients report the same.

Given the extent of the challenge and the link between better adherence to better health, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is proud to be part of a new coalition aimed at developing, promoting, and helping enact policy solutions to improve medicine adherence nationwide. Prescriptions for a Healthy America is a partnership of patient, health care providers, pharmacy organizations, consumers, and health care industry leaders whose goal is to develop near-term policy solutions to improve medication adherence.

Through Prescriptions for a Healthy America, we’re also focused on advancing solutions: increasing communication between patients and care providers, finding ways to improve access to medicine and quality care will have wide ranging benefits, providing incentives for collaboration between patients and their health care teams to improve communications, and promoting other tools that will assist patients in taking their medications as prescribed. Promoting medication adherence has broad bipartisan support and is one of the strongest tools we have to improve the lives of millions of patients while also reducing health care costs. For more information on the partnership, please visit