Discussions about patient engagement can be frustratingly vague.

Doctors inherently understand that patient outcomes improve when patients are invested in their personal health care. Improving rates of medication adherence presents a unique, specific way forward for physicians who want to better engage their patients. Paying attention to medication adherence can not only improve outcomes, but also the financial health of a medical practice.

According to Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, poor medication adherence following a hospitalization costs the U.S. healthcare system about $100 billion each year. Under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), hospital readmissions may lead to incurred penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Therefore, physicians must be vigilant about reducing the likelihood of readmission – especially for their Medicare patients.

Challenges to medication adherence

A study written by former Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin found between 33 and 69 percent of hospital readmissions are due to poor medication adherence. Moreover, poor adherence is likely the cause of more than 125,000 deaths each year.

“Poor medication adherence can increase hospital readmission rates.”

When patients fail to take their medicine according to directions or do not refill prescriptions on time, they increase the likelihood of hospital readmission. This presents a major challenge for physicians because it’s difficult to control patient behavior outside of the office.

This patient engagement challenge is particularly frustrating for doctors because it is difficult to influence patient behavior over the long term. No matter how sternly a doctor reminds his or her patients to follow their treatment plans, some are bound to forget. Other times, patients may not have easy access to a pharmacy or may neglect to refill prescriptions for financial reasons.

Using the right tools to remind patients to take their medications and get their refills is one of the ways to increase medication adherence.

Optimizing patient engagement with tailored technology

Scheduling is often the focus of patient engagement efforts, but communication solves the problem of poor medication adherence as well.

Using customizable technology, physicians can send refill alerts to their patients, remind them when it’s time for a checkup and forward digital instructions for proper medication use. When patients are more engaged with their personal health care, they’ll be more likely to stick to the treatment plan developed by their care providers.

To learn more about how technology can improve patient engagement at your practice, contact the team of experts at Tangible Solutions today.