Getting Patients to Take Their Meds is a Work in Progress.

A while back, we told you about a new method aimed at getting patients to take their meds – this one revolved around video games. But gaming isn’t a motivator for everyone, and researchers are trying to find the trouble spot surrounding the lack of adherence to doctor’s orders.

Dr. Steve Leuck, PharmD is a pharmacist and founder of AudibleRx. Dr. Leuck is excited that more research is being done to get to the bottom of the issue, but he thinks success might revolve around patient education.

“When patients understand why they are taking their medications, and importantly, what the consequences are of not taking their medication, they are much more likely to be adherent to their pharmaceutical regimen,” he said.

The studies that have already been conducted looking at things like utilizing pill box organizers, having the pharmacist talk to the patient about the medication, text reminders, even web-based support. But a lot of variance in how the studies were conducted and the sheer lack of studies in general prevented them from coming to any conclusions we can run with.

The case isn’t cracked… yet. But those in the field aren’t done trying. 

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) recommends on its website some ways patients can better remember to take their medications. A pill organizer is a good way to remember doses and when to take multiple pills, according to the URMC. Patients who take medications in the morning can try leaving them in strategic places to help them remember, such as on the kitchen counter by the coffee maker. The URMC says that setting a cellphone alarm clock or other device to ring when it’s time to take the medication is also a good technique.

It serves to mention that DPC docs have the upper hand on this one. While it’s not their job to babysit patients, frequent (and lengthy) discussions at the patients’ convenience provide ample time to talk about things like how they’re remembering to take their meds. That kind of time opens up a whole new door for improving the frequency of patient obedience!

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