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Published: October 10, 2016

Medication Adherence: Health Care’s Greatest Divide. And Opportunity

October 10, 2016 - Curant Health COO, Marc O'Connor, in Specialty Pharmacy Times -

Where have we been and where are we now?

We have long maintained that medication adherence is the longest lever available to reduce $105 billion to $300 billion in wasted health care spending every year, according to the Institute for Healthcare Informatics. According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, between 28% and 31% of new prescriptions for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, never get filled.

A study by the Mayo Clinic suggests that up to 50% of patients are, or will be, nonadherent to their medication. This waste is the result of multiple factors, including soaring prescription drug costs; barriers to access, including prior authorizations, polypharmacy; absence of patient education; and a huge gap in the care continuum between the time a patient leaves their clinician’s office and the time they return for their next visit.

Let’s use HIV as an example.

According to Kenneth L. Schaecher, MD, FACP, CPC, as published in the American Journal of Managed Care, “In the United States, the rate of adherence to HIV therapy is generally low. A meta-analysis of adherence studies—the durations of which ranged from a few days to 1 year—observed a rate of 55% who ‘achieved adherence’ among a pooled group of 17,573 patients. The definition of ‘achieving adherence’ in the studies ranged from above 80% adherence to 100% adherence. By comparison, in sub-Saharan Africa, the pooled adherence rate in studies comprising 12,116 patients was 77%.”

What have we learned?

We have learned that achieving meaningful alignment among manufacturers, patients, payers, and clinicians appears to be more difficult than summiting Mount Everest. The shift to value-based care has the potential to be an alignment and adherence improvement catalyst.

However, the existing gap between patients and their prescribers is the bridge that needs the most repair, if not rebuilding. In far too many cases, providers send patients out the door with a prescription for which there is little assignment of responsibility for the critical support needed to ensure access, let alone excellent adherence. Common results of this gap between patients and their care teams, including providers, include high abandonment of therapies, significant decreases in adherence, higher cost of care, and poor patient outcomes.

To read Marc’s full article, visit Specialty Pharmacy Times.

To learn more about Curant Health, contact Kristin Lindsey, Senior Marketing Director, at

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