Nonadherence to a prescribed medication regimen for patients with chronic pain is associated with overall lower health outcomes, including increased hospital admissions, costs, and morbidity (quantitative review here). Deviations in timing, dosage, frequency, or duration of medication—all components of noncompliance—can cause medical reactions, increased pain, and medication use disorders, and can ultimately lead to emergency care (article here). These negative health outcomes can increase, rather than decrease, chronic pain, hampering the ability of practitioners to effectively treat their patients and costing the healthcare industry as much as 10 percent of its total healthcare costs (article here). This lack of progress (and regression, in some cases) can be discouraging both to the patient, who wants pain relief, and also to providers themselves, who fail to see their pain management treatment make an impact.
In addition to potentially exacerbating patients’ chronic pain, medication noncompliance will likely be accompanied by unnecessary medical costs (article here) and an individual’s drop in productivity (article here). In fact, the full societal impact of noncompliance is estimated to be at least 2.3 times more than direct healthcare costs, just when estimating health-related productivity loss.
As care providers put in place a holistic care plan to support patients with chronic pain, a key component of their treatment should be a practice-wide strategy for medication adherence. Medication adherence is difficult for many patients and will continue to be with current practices. Providers should help address this issue by developing new solutions to track and improve adherence.
In this white paper, we outline themes that can help inform a provider’s strategy for increasing medication adherence and propose potential tools to consider.