Insights: Adherence

The complex problem of medication non-adherence.

CVS Health has an ambitious goal: to increase medication adherence by five to 15 percent by 2017. The company discusses this objective in a new report in the CVS Health Research Institute’s Insights series that explores the complex problem of medication non-adherence – and what can be done about it.

CVS Health Insights Report Tackles Complex Issue of Medication Adherence

For the past several years, CVS Health has been at the forefront of efforts to unlock adherence. Through research collaborations with respected academic organizations such as Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the University of Pennsylvania, CVS Health has published or presented more than 50 adherence-focused papers in peer reviewed journals and at clinical conferences. These research collaborations have yielded valuable insights into why people don’t take their medication as prescribed, and set the stage for the development of innovative programs that target the adherence challenge.

The new Insights publication reviews some of the key findings identified through the CVS Health research:

  • Adherence starts when the Rx is written – it is estimated that up to a third of prescriptions written are never filled.

  • Pharmacist counseling and support can make a difference – in fact research shows that face-to-face counseling by a pharmacist is two to three times more effective at increasing patient adherence than other interventions.

  • The hard work of adherence takes place every day at home, calling for innovative support tailored to the patient’s individual needs and barriers

  • Pharmacy benefit plan designs can help support adherence by reducing barriers to adherence such as cost, medication complexity and forgetfulness

The publication also highlights some of the adherence solutions CVS Health is currently developing and testing based on the company’s research findings:

  • When early research showed that pharmacist counseling was highly effective in helping patients change their behavior, the company developed and implemented the Pharmacy Advisor program, which offers one-on-one personalized counseling through its retail and PBM channels.

  • To address the impact of medication complexity (patients who take multiple medications) on medication adherence, CVS Health is piloting a prescription synchronization program which allows a patient to pick up all of his or her medications in one pharmacy visit.

  • The company is evaluating ways to make drug information easier for patients to read and understand, such as bigger, more legible names of the patient and drug on labels, simple charts and graphs to illustrate dosing and schedules, and explicit instructions that incorporate graphics.

  • To combat forgetfulness, a common reason why people stop taking their medications, CVS Health is testing a variety of devices and digital reminders to help keep patients on track and engaged with their care.


View our interactive report