5 Ways Digital Tools Can Improve Medicine Adherence
The world we live in is a complex one – so is your patient’s individual situation. One of the signs of this is medicine non-adherence: 30-50% of medicines are not used properly or not used at all. As a pharmacist or PTA, continuously providing information and assistance to help the patient is difficult. However, there are smart solutions available with which you can easily give the patient the support he needs, thus ensuring better medicine adherence. These digital tools are here to help: in this article, find out how with apps and web-based content, you can make a real difference for your patients and their treatment.
1. Understandable audiovisual content: the shortcut to information retention
We have all been there: you just picked up the new medicine prescribed by your physician. As you open the box, ready to start your treatment, you spot the tightly folded leaflet that you are supposed to read carefully. However, you really don’t want to bother with this long piece of thin paper and all the information printed in a tiny font – how hard can it be to take your pills correctly? And if you sat down with the leaflet and managed to understand it in the first place, you probably wouldn’t remember a single detail five minutes after cramming the leaflet back into the box or in the bin.
90 percent of your patients feel exactly the same and never take a look at the leaflet. It’s no secret that it takes more effort to consume, understand, and retain information presented in written form. Visual content, on the other hand, is processed 60,000 times faster than bland, black-and-white printed text – and you could take advantage of this when it comes to your patients’ education about their medicines. Easy-to-understand language, well-executed graphics and a pleasant narrator’s voice go a long way to getting your patients’ attention. And by packing medicine information into an engaging, motivating, or even funny video, there is a greater chance of them remembering crucial details.
2. Provide instructions tailored to your patients’ needs
Your patients’ attention span is limited – especially if they are reluctant to bother with information about their medicines in the first place. Once the 60-year-old male patient comes across a lengthy passage about possible side effects in pregnant women, odds are he will skip over the rest of the leaflet and dismiss it as irrelevant to his own case.
Digital tools are at a huge advantage here: they can be designed to intelligently adapt to individual details such as your patient’s specific condition, sex, age, or previous health history. Your patient is then only given information that applies in their case – and without additional content drowning out the important bits, your patient is more likely to actually receive and remember the information that counts.
3. Keep information up to date
Things can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and the world of medicines is no exception to that. However, once a leaflet is printed and shipped along with the medicine, it sits in a box on your pharmacy’s shelf until it is dispensed. By using digital tools to provide key information to your patients, you make sure that they are up-to-date at any given time: as new content is put into place, audiovisual content may be updated immediately. Especially for your patients at home.
4. Make adherence simple with digital toolboxes
For some patients, the challenge is not only to understand the medicine information – it’s to incorporate their medicines in their everyday life. Perhaps their memory is not what it used to be, or life just gets too busy every now and then. It’s easy to forget about taking your medicines on time. For some other patients, difficulties in accessing and understanding key information result in them stopping the treatment early – or not starting it at all. If they have trouble understanding the benefits of their medicines or don’t believe in its effects, they might feel safer not taking it. However, leaving out one single dose can already lead to loss of routine and becoming non-adherent. And that may have serious consequences.
Digital tools are developed for this and have your patients covered: they make sure patients are able to access and understand important information. They also allow users to set individual reminders on their phones – no more forgotten midday doses. They may have tracking features that alert your patient when their medicines are running low, giving them plenty of time to get their prescription refilled. A side effect journal may also be used that encourages users to note any reactions they might be having, making it easy to discuss these with their physician or pharmacist.
5. Keep in touch for follow-ups and questions
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a sudden, very important question on your mind? Your patients may feel this way about their medicines. Whether they only picked it up the day before or have been on it for years: you want to make sure they feel comfortable to approach you with any questions or worries, regardless of how much time has passed since you last talked. And regardless whether they are using digital tools. The human factor is still the best way to convey information.
Digital tools are true allrounders when it comes to improving medical adherence. Provide your patients with crucial information through understandable and engaging content and tailor your offer to their individual needs. You will not only improve their health literacy, but become a trusted partner on their health journey, too. Make sure you know the ins and outs of using technology to building a trusting relationship with your patients . But never forget the human factor!