Medication Adherence

Why is adherence important?

Studies have shown that approximately 50% of patients do not take their chronic medications as prescribed. Nonadherence can include delaying or not filling a prescription, skipping doses, splitting pills, or stopping a medication early. Nationally, nonadherence costs the healthcare system an estimated $100 to $289 billion annually. Not only does nonadherence increase costs, but it also leads to poorer health outcomes for patients.

What role can pharmacists play?

Pharmacists can play a major role in improving adherence for their patients. Through a variety of services, pharmacists can work with patients to find an approach that works for them. These services will not only improve patient satisfaction, but also lead to improved quality of care delivered in the pharmacy.

“Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.”
—C. Everett Koop, MD

Defining Adherence

The terms "medication adherence" and "medication compliance" are often used interchangeably in health care. "Medication adherence" is typically preferred because the term "medication compliance" suggests a passive following of provider directions and implies that the patient was not involved in developing the treatment plan. Learn more.

Measuring Adherence
There are both direct and indirect measures of medication adherence. In some instances, clinicians may measure adherence directly by measuring the concentration of drug levels in the blood. More commonly used, however, are indirect measures of adherence which include patient questionnaires, pill counts, refill rates, and clinical response. Learn more.
Tools & Resources

Appointment Based Model

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Motivational Interviewing

Medication Therapy Management

Utilizing Support Staff

Success Stories
Read about how pharmacists across the country are improving medication adherence.