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The Importance of Medication Adherence in Chronic Care

by Zain Ali
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We all go through routines in our lives. Whether making it to class before the next school bell, taking a mid-morning break at the office water cooler, brushing our teeth, making the bed after waking up, or doing our laundry on the weekends, routines move us successfully through the motions of the day. Positive routines end up forming a strong foundation for building better lives for ourselves. However, there is a routine whose neglect can compromise your health or bring serious medical complications: medical adherence.

Understanding Your Prescription

Following the diagnosis of a chronic condition, your doctor prescribes what may seem like a barrage of pills and various booklets on their associated timings and side effects. In reality, your general practitioner is not trying to fob off their tablet assortment; they are entrusting you with the necessary tools to build a habit of medical adherence. 

The Necessity of Immediate and Correct Adherence

Medical adherence may seem like a no-brainer, but it may take some getting used to. Unlike other routines, it isn’t one that we can ease into. You must get the prescription correct from day one for maximum efficacy. 

Benefits of Medical Adherence

Medical adherence helps with disease management. Who wouldn’t want a routine that helps with their symptoms and slows down the rate at which their condition progresses? It also prevents complications, especially post-hospitalisation. Adherence means that there are fewer chances of readmission. Your quality of life is also improved while adhering to your doctor’s prescriptions. As your symptoms are taken care of, more and more functionality returns to other aspects of your body, meaning you become more independent and pain-free.

The Benefits and Challenges of Medication Adherence

In addition to the health benefits, medical adherence saves money. As your chronic illness is tamed, your emergency room visits, specialist care and inpatient bills are minimised, saving you medical bills.  Your overall productivity is also improved, as reducing chronic pain and hospital trips gives you more time to engage in several activities.

Medication adherence has its challenges. It may be one of the more expensive routines one will undertake. Some medications are expensive, and a lack of finances may affect compliance. The side effects of the medicines may also be a big concern that compromises adherence. Additionally, some treatment regimens are complex, requiring different dosages over varying times throughout the day or week. For someone who can’t keep up, adherence will be a problem.  The situation is worse for people with cognitive impairments who have trouble recalling when and how to take their medications. Patients may also not fully grasp exactly what their medications are treating and consequently not take them.

Routines may need a little tweaking to optimise compliance. Here are some strategies for successful chronic care through medical adherence.

Simplification: Medical regimens can be simplified by reducing polypharmacy. Fewer drugs are easier to manage and likely to guarantee compliance. 

Adjuncts for compliance: Tools like pillboxes, sticky notes or alarms can also help with adherence. 

Help and support: Our routines don’t need to exist in a vacuum, and we can engage our family, friends or live-in assistance where possible to help with compliance. 

Education and follow-up: Patient education also goes a long way in clearing up any doubts and questions that one may have, and regular follow-up aids in monitoring the progress of medical adherence in curbing the chronic condition. 

Financing: Affordable medications optimise compliance. The cost of medicines may be subsidised by charitable organisations or well-wishers in some cases.

Medical adherence is crucial, and it is a routine that takes a village. Everyone, including patients, medical staff, friends, families and policymakers, has a significant role in setting and maintaining this routine to mitigate chronic illness and improve the lives of chronic care patients.


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