Although poor adherence is directly linked to patient behavior, there is no definitive data that has defined a ‘non-adherent’ personality or revealed a relationship between adherence and the ability to follow self-care or lifestyle recommendations.14 Likewise, medication adherence has not been shown to be correlated to demographic variables such as age, gender, or race, although there is a weak relationship with lower education and income levels. There are many variables that can be factored into adherence behavior outside of demographic variables that have greater utility as a predictor of medication adherence behavior. Table 1 categorizes the predictive strength of consumer-related variables (and their interaction within the health care system) as they are presented in the literature.
Moreover, the decision to be adherent is unique for each medication, and driven by three factors: (1) the perceived need for the medication (related to their understanding of the disease and therapy): (2) the perceived concerns about the medication (related to side-effects and safety); and (3) the perceived medication affordability.
National Consumers League’s Approach
The National Consumers League has launched a medication adherence awareness campaign entitled “Script Your Future”. The multiyear effort focuses primarily on patients affected by diabetes, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease. It is a powerful campaign that educates the consumer that poor medication adherence can lead to consequences that affect their ability to take care of themselves and their loved ones, places undue emotional and financial burden on family members, and jeopardizes the ability to experience future family events and milestones. The campaign also encourages patients and health care professionals to better communicate about ways to improve medication adherence.
Physicians, particularly primary care physicians (PCPs) and other specialists that write prescriptions for chronic diseases, can play a key role in addressing medication adherence given that they represent the initiation of the prescription process and have the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with the patient.
Harnessing the information revolution
In April 2015, England became the first country in the world to enable its citizens to book GP practice appointments, order prescriptions and access their medical records online. By April 2016, over 95 percent of GPs were able to offer patients online access to their detailed health record.
This underpins our work to encourage better use of data and technology to extend patient choice, enable citizens to take more control, be more engaged in their own health and care, improve outcomes, and at the same time reduce the administrative burden on the NHS.
In February 2016, DH announced £4.2 billion of funding for NHS technology over the next five years, including £1.8 billion to create a paper free health and care system, following the publication in November 2014 of the National Information Board’s strategy, which will support the transformation of care. This funding is underpinned by a benefits case with efficiencies mapped out over the next five years.
In September 2015, we launched guidance for CCGs on extending electronic health records and the development of local digital roadmaps to realise a paper free health and care system by 2020.
Over 17 million patients are able to use the Electronic Prescription Service, which allows them to collect medicines direct from the pharmacy without visiting their GP, or even have them delivered. A third of all prescriptions are now transmitted electronically.
A new E-Referrals system was launched in June 2015, which provides a safe and secure mechanism for patients and referrers to select a provider of their choice and convenient time and date for their appointment.
Over 96 percent of patients now have an electronic SCR, which can be accessed by health professionals with the patient’s consent. Its use is increasing on occasions when urgent care is needed, with over 3 million views a year.
Case study: Learning from the Patient Online programme
The Swan Practice in Buckingham sees about 70 patients per day for tests and samples. Until recently, patients had to ring or visit the practice to get their results. Each call lasts approximately two minutes, but can easily take up more time when the patient wants the receptionist to read out the results.
Since August 2015, when the practice started offering online test results to their patients, the number of calls has dropped to 25 per day. This has freed up valuable time for both administrative and clinical staff.
The safety of patients is paramount, but healthcare inevitably carries risks. Understanding and managing these risks is vital to secure the best outcomes.
Staff are encouraged to report all patient safety incidents, whether minor or serious, and increasing numbers of reports are seen as a good sign of an improving safety culture. The National Reporting and Learning System is the most comprehensive database of patient safety information in the world, having amassed over 12 million reports since it was established in 2004. Over 1.7 million incidents were recorded in the last year, a pleasing increase of over 10 percent on the previous year, suggesting greater awareness and transparency around patient safety. Ten patient safety alerts were issued in 2015/16, based on these incident reports. This increase in incident reporting should not be taken as an indication of worsening patient safety, but rather as an increasing level of awareness of safety issues amongst healthcare professionals and a more open and transparent culture across the organisation.