Ask About Adherence: Discussion on medication adherence as national priority

Discussion on medication adherence as national priority.

Guest ContributorJune 21, 2017

Ask About Adherence: Discussion on medication adherence as national priority.


Ask About Adherence is a blog series featuring discussions with experts and new medication adherence resources. In this post, Sloane Salzburg, M.S, executive director of Prescriptions for a Healthy America, discusses a recent meeting on the importance of medication adherence in which stakeholders agreed on four priorities.

Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view. Views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today.

In efforts to move toward a healthcare system that is more based on value, a key driver of rising costs is often missing: medication non-adherence. Improving adherence to prescribed medicines can allow the system to reign in rising health costs while simultaneously improving patient care, quality, and outcomes.

Studies have shown that people who don’t take their medicines are more likely to end up back in the hospital or in the emergency room than those who do —leading to avoidable annual healthcare costs totaling up to $300 billion.

What can we do? Prescriptions for a Healthy America and Duke University’s Medication Adherence Alliance assembled a diverse group of experts from Washington, D.C., California, North Carolina and many places in between, representing patients, physicians, pharmacists, pharmaceuticals and other life science organizations. Together, we coalesced around four priorities for fixing this problem:

  • Change the Law to Create Better Incentives: “Healthcare providers, plans and drug manufacturers are discouraged from developing and carrying out programs to improve patient adherence in federal healthcare programs (like Medicare and Medicaid), for fear of triggering a law known as the federal anti-kickback statute. A well-designed ‘safe harbor’ to the anti-kickback statute can fill an important gap in the current regulations, which have not been updated in years.”
  • Improve Information Sharing: “The Senate Finance Committee recently passed a long-awaited, bipartisan bill called the CHRONIC Act. The legislation makes key improvements to how we care for those with chronic disease. The law included an amendment championed by our members to better coordinate information sharing between Medicare Parts A and B–which covers hospital and doctor visits–and Part D, which covers prescription drugs.”
  • Better Integration: “A team-based approach with a holistic view of the patient through integrated data sharing and learning will greatly accelerate and improve healthcare delivery. This approach starts with the formation of multidisciplinary, interprofessional healthcare teams–made up of a primary care physician, cardiologist and pharmacist, for example–that optimize each provider’s role.”
  • Leverage New and Better Technologies: “New and emerging technologies, like wearable devices, should also be leveraged to help doctors see how medication-taking behavior affects individuals (i.e., blood pressure) and harness the power of predictive analytics to identify patients at highest risk for medication-related issues.”

For more information, check out an op-ed coauthored by Salzburg and Hayden Bosworth, professor at Duke University Medical Center, in Forbes here.

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