Pill shaming will not improve medication compliance

Non compliance with medications is one of the most common topics to come up at health tech events, according to Syd Verma, the host of Peak15.

In a report on medication adherence published in 2002, the World Health Organization stated that approximately 50% of people with chronic illnesses do not take their medications as prescribed.

The result, according to the report, is increased morbidity and avoidable costs of approximately $100 billion per year.

Factors contributing to poor medication adherence include :-

  • Poor communication
  • Complex drug regimens that are difficult to manage
  • Multiple physicians involved in the patients care
  • Information silos
  • Poor use of technology

At the last Peak15 event for 2018 called Medication Adherence and Health IT, three speakers addressed this topic from different perspectives.

Professor Kwang Lim from the Royal Melbourne Hospital

The first speaker was Professor Kwang Lim. He is the Clinical Director for Medicine and Aged Care at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and a Professor for the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne.

Professor Lim, who is also a Geriatrician and General Physician, is passionate about holistically individualised innovating health care and finding solutions ‘outside the box’.

Professor Kwang Lim

“Engaging GP’s in increasing compliance is difficult, they are busy and don’t want to be told how to do their jobs.”

His main points were –

Doctors are currently paid to prescribe treatments but are not funded to provide ongoing monitoring of compliance.

Patients don’t always tell the truth about medication compliance. They might be confused, ashamed, have financial worries or not understand the consequences of not completing their treatments.

Family attitudes about medications have a significant impact on whether the person will take their medications or not.

Kate Porz from Prizer Healthcare Hub

The second speaker was Kate Porz.

Kate is the Co-Lead for the Pfizer Healthcare Hub based in Sydney and a registered Pharmacist with an interest in using digital tools to improve quality use of medicines and patient health literacy.

Kate Porz

“We need to make corporates more approachable at meetup events, helping startups develop a MVP and find a financial partner.”

The Pfizer Healthcare Hub Sydney is a new initiative to help companies innovating in the health tech space to realise their potential.

The hub is designed to help start-ups to grow and reach more patients and providers faster, by giving access to Pfizer’s network and resources.

Pfizer can be contacted by interested startups via the CoVentured site.

Adam Stormont from Ward Medication Management

The final speaker was Adam Stormont, a qualified pharmacist and is currently the National Operations Manager at Ward Medication Management.

Adam’s team provides pharmacy services to a large portion of the aged care sector and Adam has worked in both the community and hospitals as well as in health technology.

Adam believes that the healthcare reform is a difficult conversation. Inevitably someone is going to lose money as a result of reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

He also believes that patients should have full access to their medical records, because knowledge is power.

At these health technology events, health professionals and corporates are inevitably the guest speakers.

Patients Opinions about Medication Compliance

So what do patients feel about the topic of non compliance with medications?

On social media, many people with chronic diseases that require ongoing medications, describe being bullied by ideologically driven groups for taking their medications.

This is know as ‘pill shaming’.

Many others requiring ongoing medications are complaining about being kept in the dark about the final costs of medical treatments, know as ‘co pays’ or ‘out of pocket costs’.

Healthcare has traditionally been a third party payment system. Billing is fragmented into thousands of items, each with its own code.

The end result is often large and unexpected bills for patients.

In Australia, two in every three Australians aged 65 and over are taking five or more medications which contributes to an annual cost of non adherence estimated to be $7 billion dollars.

30% of Australian hospital admissions for people aged 65 and over, are believed to be caused by medication issues.

Non compliance with medications is contributing to our unnecessary use of hospital beds.

In the face of an aging population and rising health costs, Australia urgently needs a change in health policy.

Community care is far cheaper than hospital beds. And prevention is always better than cure.


Medication Adherence: WHO Cares? – Mayo Clinic

© Wikihospitals December 2018