As a locum tenens doctor, you’re almost constantly on the move. Traveling across the country and seeing lots of different patients sometimes makes spending quality time with each of them a bit challenging. After doing your part to treat every medical condition within your power, it’s up to patients themselves to ensure they regain their health. This can mean adhering to the distinct instructions provided, taking their medication, or just following up with related therapies. The reality is that so much great medical care begins to unravel after patients leave the hospital. Here are three ways to improve patient adherence during your next locum tenens assignment!
According to a past IMS Health Informatics study, $105 billion of the total $213 billion in advisable annual healthcare costs is due to medication nonadherence! Additionally, these cutting these costs likely means improved health outcomes, reduced readmissions, and reduced viral loads. This makes finding ways to improve patient adherence a significant pursuit for most healthcare professionals. A major strategy for achieving this is how patients approach prescribed medical therapies.
Three Ways to Improve Patient Adherence
1. Work Closely with Pharmacists
The average physician interaction with patients lasts a ghastly eight minutes and accounts for about 12 percent of his or her time on the job, according to studies by The Journal of General Internal Medicine. Separate studies suggest that physicians spend less than a minute on discussing prescription medications with their patients. At the same time, Curant Health reported that pharmacists spend an average of 21 minutes with patients per interaction. That means they have more than twice the amount of time to assist and educate patients on the importance of adhering to their prescriptions.
And while pharmacists aren’t the ones making diagnoses or plans for treatment, they represent significant touchpoint for patients. By consciously working to communicate and coordinate with pharmacists, physicians can better ensure that prescriptions are as effective as possible. Filling the gap between writing a prescription and receiving it is just one of the ways to improve patient adherence.
2. Highlight the Importance of Medication Therapy Management
Broadly speaking, medication therapy management (MTM) is a term that encompasses aspects of developing a personal medication record, a medication-related action plan, interventions, and referrals, as well as documentation and follow-ups. In terms of ways to improve patient adherence, this is the most direct and objective means. When pharmacists are better trained through MTM programs, complex patients achieve better health while lowering costs. A 2012 study of HIV patients undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy reported a 28 percent increase thanks to MTM.
Again, promoting ways to improve patient adherence not only cut cost, but also achieve better health for many. The ways that locum tenens physicians can incorporate such MTM programs isn’t always within their personal administrative duties, however they provide notable benefits.
3. Fully Evaluate the Patient in all Their Complexity
As a physician, you’re no stranger to how incredibly complex the human body really is. This makes for considerable challenges when dealing with chronic illnesses where administering medication needs to be precise. Another one of the ways to improve patient adherence is to look beyond a disease to the barriers and challenges in someone regaining their health. Taking someone’s other medications into account, their potential side effects, as well as their history of other illnesses and treatments are all part of your complex evaluations.
Other factors like lifestyle, level of education, and financial difficulties make it difficult for certain patients to adhere to their treatments. Developing trusting relationships with patients built on mutual understanding and support is key. Sometimes just being the advocate for patients in need is how they can receive the best care possible between a team of healthcare professionals.
What are ways to improve patient adherence that you utilize? Let us know in the comments below!