Thoughts on Medication Adherence

It’s a bit dated but I’ve recently come across a Health Affairs article from January 2011 on the cost effectiveness of medication adherence.

While previous research has shown a link between medication adherence and health cost savings, this study provides the strongest proof yet of the relationship.  Despite the knowledge that medication adherence results in better health outcomes, as well as decreased inpatient and emergency room visits, less than 50 percent of persons on a medication regime are compliant, according to the World Health Organization.

The study looked at chronic disease states, such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, congestive heart failure and hypertension.  Despite the higher pharmacy spending associated with increased compliance, the study demonstrated overall health care costs were lower for adherent patients, largely through reduced hospitalizations.

The article recommends that health policy planners consider reaping additional savings through relatively low-cost adherence interventions such as value-based insurance design, electronic monitoring devices and pharmacist counseling.

Interestingly, cost savings were most evident in persons 65 and older.  This is why the Medicare Part D program and the improvements made to it as part of the Affordable Care Act are so vital in keeping health care costs down in older populations.  In addition to eventually closing the ‘donut hole’ the new law provides for medication therapy management and wellness programs – all of which will reap savings in the short and long term.

You can view the Health Affairs article here.

-Jaime Venditti, 11/28/11