What good is data if you can’t trust it? Can that trust be held the same for medication adherence data?

Medication adherence data is the least trusted type of medication information among physicians. Why? Because they don’t have access to this information from reliable sources. A majority of 300 physicians Surescripts and ORC International recently surveyed (83%) say they want easy electronic access to this data—but only 17% of those physicians have access.

That’s quite a discrepancy. When you don’t have this access as a prescriber, you must instead rely on what the patient tells you in the clinic about what they’re taking, how much and how often. This is crucial information, easily forgotten or misreported by the patient. And it comes with a hefty price tag: Non-adherence costs the U.S. healthcare system  more than $100 billion every year.

According to the survey, 56% of physicians say they don’t trust medication adherence data—nearly twice the percentage who distrust any other type of medication information. These physicians said they trust data on medication history, medication cost, drug formulary coverage and medical history much more than data on medication adherence.

Turning the $100B Problem Around

Getting at the root cause of non-adherence—and being alerted to a patient’s non-adherence in the first place—improves the physician-patient experience in a substantive, meaningful way. That’s possible when prescribers have direct access to medication adherence data right within the EHR workflow, supplied from reliable sources—think patient-specific medication summaries and real-time messages sent straight from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and health plans. This kind of access brings PBMs and health plans into the conversation, as though they’re with the physician and patient in the clinic at the point of care.

Here’s how it works if you’re an Aprima user.

From within your EHR workflow, you are informed of all medications your patient is taking (or not taking) on one screen. Flagged medications indicate low or non-adherence. For example, an alert may show an adherence summary score of 50% on your patient’s diabetes medication, based on the proportion of days covered by prescription dispensed, or PDC score. From there, you ask her the relevant questions: Why isn’t she taking her medicine? And why hasn’t she refilled her prescription?

Her answer: She refuses to take it because of side effects.

Armed with this knowledge, not only do you change the prescription to one that your patient may tolerate better, but you confirm that the out-of-pocket costs for this medication aren’t exorbitant, which ensures that you don’t swap one non-adherence problem for another.

Ultimately, you as the physician have gained a bit more trust in medication adherence data, direct from the source, which has enabled the conversation with your patient. And your patient enjoys a positive outcome.

It’s a win-win.

About the author

Scott Motejunas is Manager of Product Innovation at Surescripts. Since 2001, Surescripts has led the movement to turn data into actionable intelligence and convened network participants to enhance e-prescribing, inform care decisions and advance healthcare. To see more findings from the Surescripts physician survey, download the report Physician Perspectives on Access to Patient Data.