4 Approaches to Improving Patient Prescription Adherence


When a patient receives a prescription from a physician, it’s assumed the patient will follow it. But the likelihood of the patient actually adhering to their prescription is pretty much a coin toss. Experts estimate that only 50% of patients take their medications as directed.

The ramifications of this trend are obvious. Those who don’t follow their patient prescriptions may see conditions persist or even worsen — a situation no physician wants for his or her patients.

Today, we’ll explore a few ways you can help your patients adhere to their prescriptions and achieve better health outcomes.


A major impediment preventing patients from following established prescription plans is the arduous process of getting prescriptions filled.

With traditional paper prescriptions, procuring a prescription is a three-step process. First, patients must drop off the prescription order. Then, they leave and wait for the pharmacy to call. Finally, they have to go back and pick up the medication.

This inconvenience causes some patients to delay the process to the point of forgetting, if they hadn’t already decided to blow it off altogether.

With ePrescribing, you can whittle the process down to one simple step. Patient prescriptions are sent electronically from the point of care, meaning all a patient has to do is pick up the prescription once it’s ready. If for some reason the patient doesn’t pick up the prescription, you’ll be alerted so you can send them a friendly reminder.

Engage Patients

Patients’ ability to search for health information online has brought both benefits and pitfalls. A growing problem for physicians is that certain patients are more apt to trust information they see online, rather than their own doctor’s. This can be especially true with medications that online reviewers deem to have unfavorable side effects.

Overcome this by building a better relationship with patients through engagement. This way, they’ll be more inclined to trust your judgments. It starts off with expressing your concern during their office visits and extends into their personal lives.

Patient portals allow you to meaningfully interact with patients in a secure manner away from the office. This can involve sending lab results or providing them with educational material. Social media is another avenue through which you can enhance the physician-patient relationship.

Always keep in mind that patients who trust you are far more likely to adhere to prescription orders.

Recommend Technology to Patients

As technology has become increasingly pervasive, the general population has adjusted accordingly. It’s not uncommon to see senior citizens working a smartphone with as much expertise as any teen. Take advantage of technology to help ensure adherence to patient prescriptions.

Mobile apps like MedCoach and RxMindMe alert patients of when they need to take medication. There are also ‘smart’ pill bottles like those from AdhereTech, which are engineered specifically to help increase prescription adherence.

The smart pill bottle keeps track of the amount of medication inside and alerts the patient through an automated phone call or text message when they need to take medicine or refill prescriptions.

Thoroughly Describing the Medication

Studies have found a positive correlation between patient knowledge and prescription adherence. It’s vital to provide your patients with all the information you can about the medications you prescribe them, such as benefits, side effects and costs.

Doing so may make for slightly longer office visits but will avoid unnecessary visits in the future caused by patients not taking medications.

Diagnosing a patient and finding the best treatment for them is a waste of time if they disregard their prescription. Take the above four recommendations into consideration, and you’ll be able to encourage patients to follow through with their end of the bargain.

EHRs are another way improve the level of care you provide. If you’d like to find out how, register for an upcoming free webinar with MGMA Principle Consultant Rosemarie Nelson.


Free e-book:

Pros and Cons of In-house vs. Outsourced Medical Billing

Download Now!