Medication Adherence: How to Help Employees Stay On Track

Medication Adherence: How to Help Employees Stay On Track

improve medication adherence

Medication adherence. It’s an important topic, but it’s not on a lot of your employee’s minds these days.

Why is making sure employees are complying with their medications so important? Not taking medicine prescribed by healthcare providers could lead to employee’s health conditions getting worse, hospitalizations, or even death. Medication non-adherence can cost up to $290 million U.S. dollars annually. (Source) And of course, lost productivity through absenteeism and presenteeism. 

But what if you don’t know where to start? Do not worry!

That’s why we put together this article. Here, we will show you exactly how to play an active role in ensuring employees are taking their medications correctly.

Let’s dive right in. 

How does poor medication adherence affect your employees?  

In America, about half of patients with chronic diseases don’t take their medications as prescribed, and almost 30% never fill them. You will have employees that are among them. Medication non-adherence can lead to serious health consequences, ranging from treatment failures, increased physicians or emergency department visits, to death. This all contributes to significant productivity loss in the workplace. 

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, poor medication adherence causes 33% to 66% of all medication-related hospitalizations that happen in the United States. Poor medication adherence leads to 2-10 absent days per employee every year. Medication non-adherence also causes 125,000 preventable U.S. deaths each year

It’s hard to ignore these alarming statistics that highlight the impact of poor medication adherence. Knowing how serious medication non-adherence can affect your employees, it’s time to make medication adherence your top priority for employee wellness. 

Find out why your employees are not taking their medications

First, you want to pinpoint the reasons that may be stopping your employees from taking their medications. According to research conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health, six common barriers prevent employees from taking their medications as prescribed. 

  1. Employees don’t like the way medicine makes them feel, so they stop taking it.
  2. They don’t understand why they are taking the medication in the first place. 
  3. The drug costs too much for them.
  4. Employees forgot to take their medications.
  5. They fear death.
  6. They feel better, so they stop taking the medication.  

After you figure out why your employees are not sticking to their medication routine, you can start exploring the barriers and the solutions. 

Understand the barriers of medication adherence from the ground up

Every drug therapy comes with a certain level of complexity, whether that being interactions with other drugs, food supplements, or one’s genetic make-up. Due to these complicated associations, each individual experiences the effect of medications very differently. 

Experiencing adverse side effects, or even the fear of perceived side effects may lead to medication non-adherence. Especially after experiencing a serious adverse drug reaction, your employees may lose trust in their healthcare providers as well as their medications.

Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, medication costs, and limited insurance coverage are also drivers of medication non-adherence

Poor communication between your employees and their healthcare providers about the medications can add another roadblock to medication compliance. In the United States alone, around 90 million adults have inadequate health literacy, putting them at risk for increased rates of hospitalization and poorer health outcomes. If your employees do not get involved at the beginning of the treatment decision-making process, it makes them even more prone to medication non-adherence.

So, preparing your employees through the right education and solutions is key to helping them manage their diseases and adhere to their medications.

Educate your employees on ways to take control of their health

ways to improve medication adherence

The truth is that the only person who can take control of their health is themselves; your employees. The easiest way to get started is to help improve your employees’ health literacy. 

Since patients (your employees) recall only half of the discussion during a typical medical visit, most education is done outside of the examining room through self-research with Dr. Google. Because your employees spend half of their time every week at work, you’re in a great position to help guide your employees in the right direction.

Here are a couple of ideas you can adopt to increase employee health literacy. 

Share easy-to-understand medical information. Medical jargon can be complicated and confusing at times, so make an effort to share information from reputable sources that use simple and clear language. These resources from MedlinePlus are a great place to start.

Use visuals to convey information when possible. Visual content will benefit employees who may have lower literacy skills or just a preference for visual learning. Share infographics in employee newsletters or office bulletin boards. The World Health Organization has a library full of infographics to choose from, and GenXys has a few interesting infographics you can use too.

Host webinars, seminars, or “lunch and learns.” Invite local healthcare experts to hold educational sessions at your workplace around specific health conditions. Allow employees to ask questions at these events. At GenXys, we have a team of healthcare professionals who can organize tailored webinars for your workplace. Learn more here

Improve employee medication adherence by getting the medications right 

Educating employees on the importance of health literacy, the value of medication adherence and their health benefits is just the tip of the iceberg. The ultimate solution is for your employees to get the right medication right from the start. Help your employees understand why medications have been specifically chosen for them will give them the confidence that it is not a ‘trial and error’ approach.

Sounds great right, but how do we get to nirvana? 

It starts by including all variables for accurate medication selection. This includes considering each employee’s unique genetic make-up when looking at medication options. A solution like pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing detects genetic differences that cause some medications to work differently within one’s body. By tailoring drug options and dosages based on the genetic make-up of the individual along with other variables, and addressing their concerns, adherence to a prescribed regimen will be improved. 

How exactly can pharmacogenetic information help? 

Integrating such personal information at the point of selecting a medication can reduce uncomfortable side effects and harmful adverse drug events by adjusting dosages or considering alternatives from the get-go. Prescribing the right medications at the correct dose from the start helps eliminate the cost of trial and error and potential hospitalizations due to drug safety issues. 

Because your employees will have access to their PGx testing results, the PGx information allows them to be actively involved in treatment decisions. A study also suggested that following PGx testing, patients felt more confident about taking their medication and believed it provided their physician with more insight on dosing.

Best of all, adding pharmacogenetic solutions into your employee benefits package is easier than ever before. More and more insurance companies such as UnitedHealth Group and Sun Life Financial are offering their clients PGx solutions as part of their disability management toolkit. The toolkit helps employers ensure their employees get better and back to work faster. If you want your employees to take their medications as prescribed, recover, and get back to work sooner, considering pharmacogenetic solutions is the way to go. 

(To read about specific examples on how PGx can help employees overcome obstacles to medication adherence, see also: Can pharmacogenetics overcome barriers to medication adherence.) 

Implement the right tool so all employee medication information is in one place

Using PGx information easily at the point of care remains a crucial challenge. Why is that? A traditional 50-page report of PGx information, often in deep genetic science lingo,  is hard to interpret and act upon during the limited time that healthcare providers have with their patients. 

Adding to this is that the relative costs of prescriptions are often not taken into consideration when selecting medications as they are not readily available in healthcare providers’ current workflows. 

When all of this information regarding patients’ conditions, genetics, and medications are dispersed in different systems, it reduces the effectiveness and accuracy of clinical decisions, resulting in reduced medication adherence. 

How to get all the medication and patient information in one place? 

Implementing an intelligent clinical decision support software like TreatGx, which is interoperable with other systems, can enable prescribers to incorporate all these complex variables, together with relative medication costs, in their everyday clinical practice. 

TreatGx’s “smart prescribing” algorithms are built based on the highest level of clinical evidence and can take into account your employee’s genetic profile, medical history, biophysical data, and other essential variables for prescribing, such as renal and liver function. 

After running these smart-prescribing algorithms through TreatGx, your employees will receive a list of optimal, individualized drug therapy options, including relative price information for the condition they want to treat. TreatGx enables improved medication adherence by getting all medication-related information in one place and giving employees the confidence and tools to participate in their medication decision process proactively. 

Takeaways

Most employees today don’t understand the significant benefits of medication adherence, and they need your support. Start by recognizing the reasons that are preventing them from taking their medications correctly. Then, try to understand every barrier completely and address them accordingly. 

Next, you want to educate and prepare your employees with the resources they need to breakdown these barriers. Then, consider implementing a solution like PGx testing to help employees get the right medications from the start.

Finally, providing a tool that individuals can access from anywhere at any time and share with their healthcare providers which combine their personal data points to inform medication decisions will add a huge amount of confidence for sticking to their medication regimen. A SaaS-based application like TreatGx allows your employees to understand the reasons behind their medication decisions and their healthcare team to move from a trial and error approach to prescribing to one of accuracy and precision.

By adding employee health solutions like PGx testing and clinical decision support software to your company’s benefits package, you will increase employee medication adherence, boost employee productivity, and ultimately improve health outcomes. Healthy employees are one of the most important keys to a healthy business.

Next Step 

Ready to learn more about how pharmacogenetics can help your company reduce healthcare costs and boost your employee’s health? Download our free webinar recordings below. 

Pharmacogenetics for Employers: 5-Part Series
Everything employers need to know about implementing pharmacogenetic solutions into their workplace.
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