What is Medication Adherence?

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

What is Medication Adherence?

Ash Team

Medication adherence tracks the degree to which a patient follows agreed upon recommendations from a care provider. Patients who do not take medication as prescribed fail to realize their benefits, and may experience worsening of disease, increased care costs, and death. Sometimes medication adherence and medication compliance are used synonymously, but compliance more so implies patient obedience to provider authority. Medication adherence suggests collaboration between patient and provider that is more mindful of patient lifestyle and preferences.  

What is an example of medication adherence?

An example of medication adherence is long-term lithium therapy. Lithium therapy remains the gold standard for long-term bipolar treatment according to some specialists, and its continued use over 40 or 50 years can prevent recurrences of manic and depressive episodes in patients. However, there are adverse side effects related to continued lithium drug use that render medication adherence requirements even more crucial—including gastrointestinal, nephropathy, and neurological problems. Providers may shift medication adherence specifications to abate side effects, such as changing dosages. 

Another aspect of medication adherence to lithium is routine lab testing. Providers may screen patients for electrolytes, creatinine, GFR, BUN, thyroid function tests, EKG, CBC, and weight every 4 to 6 months. Disruption or delays in lab testing may impact medication adherence requirements, especially if patients experience ongoing barriers to care. Providers and patients can work together to establish consistent lab testing expectations and solutions that prevent breaks in medication consumption, which may result in unnecessary withdrawal symptoms.  

How to improve medication adherence

Medication non-adherence is a phenomenon wherein a patient does not follow provider instructions and recommendations related to prescribed medication use. Barriers to adherence may include overly complex regimens, fear of adverse consequences, mistrust in providers or health care in general, or misunderstanding adherence requirements. According to one study, patients who are prescribed self-administered medicines take only about half of the recommended doses, while others quit treatment entirely.

There are many ways to improve medication adherence—some of which can be enhanced through digital health innovations and remote care. Electronic pill bottles use a microchip to record a date-and-time stamp for providers and patients to accurately track consistent medication consumption in accordance with recommendations. Patient self-report technology uses video chat self-record medication ingestion for ongoing review from providers. Other video based systems such as standard telehealth may reduce barriers to medication adherence by providing greater access to providers who can answer ongoing patient questions. 

Medication adherence through at-home diagnostics 

At-home diagnostics can improve adherence to medications that require routine lab work, such as PrEP, lithium, or certain diabetes drugs. Patients can complete labs at home rather than going to visit a phlebotomist in person, which allows them to meet provider or insurance requirements without a break in medication ingestion. This provides stability for long-term medication adherence and supports better patient outcomes. 

Providers who use at-home diagnostics allow patients to conveniently self-collect samples like blood, saliva, or urine in the familiar setting of their homes. Clear instructions guide them through the process, and the collected samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are delivered electronically or through a secure platform, contributing to improved accessibility to healthcare services, particularly in remote or challenging situations.

Chat with Ash Wellness about building an at-home diagnostics program to support patient medication adherence. 

Medication adherence with Ash Wellness 

Ash Wellness plays a pivotal role in promoting medication adherence—particularly in the context of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the United States. With a monthly processing capacity exceeding 10,000 HIV and creatinine test kits, Ash Wellness champions remote medication adherence to eliminate barriers to care for individuals facing financial constraints or those unable to access in-person phlebotomy services. Our platform empowers healthcare providers and organizations to offer customizable, white-labeled kitting solutions for sustained medication adherence through remote testing.

Clients have the flexibility to design a personalized kit tray insert or postcard that reflects their brand identity and guides patients in initiating the process. This includes the incorporation of elements such as logos, high-level instructions for kit completion, contact and support information, as well as QR codes or links to instructional videos. Furthermore, clients can enhance the kit experience by including additional resources related to general health and wellness education. The secure Patient Portal provides a space for clients to integrate their preferred content and resources, which ensures a comprehensive and tailored approach to supporting patients on their adherence journey.

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