Medication Adherence During COVID-19

Apr 27, 2020

Four tips that will help drive medication adherence during COVID-19.

COVID-19 has taken a lot from us, including the ability to check in on many patients in person. According to CDC data, nearly 50% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and nearly a fourth take three or more. However, adherence is an issue; even without a global health crisis, some studies have shown medication nonadherence affected as many as 40% to 50% of people with chronic conditions.

Health plans, pharmacies, and providers alike are asking themselves important questions about those they serve with chronic conditions like, “Are they remembering to take their medications? Are they too scared to go to the pharmacy to get a refill? Are they having to choose between buying weekly groceries or the prescription I gave them?”

These questions and situations are real because condition management doesn’t stop in a crisis. In fact, in times like these, people need support now more than ever to remember daily habits to manage their diet, reduce stress, and take recommended medications. Doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially important since people need to minimize unplanned clinical visits and keep the healthcare system freed up-as much as possible-to focus on managing critically ill patients.

Related: Is the Final Word on Ibuprofen and COVID-19 Risk?

Health plans and pharmacies can play a key role in this process by helping people adhere to prescribed medications. Most have already accommodated early refills, mail order options and 90-day supplies. The next step is making sure people know about these changes and getting them to actively refill medications.

Here are four things we’ve learned along the way that your organization can use to boost adherence in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4 Tips to Drive Medication Adherence During COVID-19

1. Start with Data. Analytics and predictive modeling can identify who is at highest risk for non-compliance so you can better target your outreach. This includes taking into consideration factors that could change frequently, like social determinants of health (SDoH). Some factors of SDoH are financial stability, education level, and living situation, among others.

2. Use Multiple Communications Channels. Different channels are more effective for different things. We have seen interactive voice response (IVR) work best for automated refill reminders, live-agent calls for connecting with high-need individuals, text for daily medication reminders, and postcards for mail-order medications

3. Make Your Messages Memorable. Refer to relevant, local resources and use barrier breaking questions such as, “Are you ready to refill?” Also, reach out to members using multiple touch points.

4. Don’t Overwhelm the Individual. Use analytics to predict receptivity and likelihood to respond, coordinate message across your organization and offer self-serve options like chatbot or interactive texting

By incorporating these tips, organizations will connect with members and be a dependable resource for them during this time of uncertainty. Now is the time to be communicating with patients/members, as it’s important they can feel confident knowing where to turn to focus on health and wellbeing.

April Gill is senior vice president of Market Solutions, Welltok.

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