Employing Multiple Strategies to Address Medication Adherence

07.13.17

Taking medications as prescribed (medication adherence) is one of the most important things patients can do to get and stay on their path to better health. But for a variety of reasons, many patients are unwilling or unable to adhere to their treatment regimen.

The World Health Organization identified five dimensions that affect medication adherence:

  • Patient-related factors, such as health literacy and perceptions about the effectiveness of the medication

  • Condition-related factors, which may include associated stigmas with certain conditions or the severity of symptoms

  • Therapy-related factors, such as medication side effects or complexity of the medication regimen

  • Social and economic factors, including medication costs and insurance coverage

  • Health system-related factors, such as patient-provider communication, wait times, or the integration of pharmacy services1

Our own research suggests similar complexity, noting a broad range of challenges. In fact, a CVS Research Institute study found patients’ patterns of medication fills in the first few months after starting a chronic therapy accurately predict how well they adhere to medication in the future. 

The Cost of Non-adherence

Non-adherence to prescribed therapies comes at a significant cost to patients’ health and personal finances, and to the entire health system. In fact, between $100 and $300 billion of avoidable health care costs in the United States, as well as the loss of tens of thousands of lives, are attributed to medication non-adherence each year.2

Addressing Barriers to Medication Adherence

As a company that interacts on a daily basis with patients in nearly 10,000 communities across America, we have learned valuable lessons on how to address barriers to medication adherence. Our integrated model enables innovative medication adherence programs to be delivered to pharmacy benefit management (PBM) clients and their members as well as to the millions of customers each day who access CVS Pharmacy.

These programs and services include:

  • Transform Diabetes, which provides tailored support and coaching for CVS Caremark members with diabetes to help encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors and maintenance of A1C levels. It incorporates clinical care and cost management solutions to help lower costs for clients, and improve outcomes for members.

  • Through Maintenance Choice, members fill 90-day supplies of medications for chronic conditions through either the CVS Caremark mail service or at any CVS Pharmacy location, where they can also receive face-to-face counseling.

  • CVS Health’s Pharmacy Advisor® program helps CVS Caremark plan members achieve better health outcomes through pharmacist support, either face-to-face at CVS Pharmacy, or by phone when members choose mail service pharmacy.

  • CVS Health also offers a suite of digital pharmacy tools available on the CVS Pharmacy mobile application, including Scan Paper Script to start the prescription fill process using their phone’s camera, Insurance Card Scan to share and update insurance information, MedRemind to help customers track their medication schedules, and In-Store Pharmacy Messages to notify customers when their prescription is ready for refill or pick-up.

  • Specialty Connect™ allows patients with complex conditions to bring their specialty prescriptions to any CVS Pharmacy and receive dedicated clinical support by phone from a team of specialty pharmacy experts. Patients can choose between in-store pickup at any CVS Pharmacy location or they can receive their medications by mail.

  • ScriptSync™ enables patients with multiple medications and their caregivers to pick up prescriptions in one monthly CVS Pharmacy visit.

  • Our Omnicare subsidiary provides pharmacy services at senior living, long-term care, and post-acute care facilities, making it easier for these patients and their caregivers to fill and adhere to needed prescriptions.

For more information about our efforts to help patients take their medications as prescribed, visit our Health Care Innovation & Delivery information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

1 NEJM. http://catalyst.nejm.org/optimize-patients-medication-adherence/
2 Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934668/