Every year more than 4 billion medical prescriptions are written. However, drugs won’t work unless they are actually taken. The US population consumes more prescription drugs than any other country, and yet up to 7% of prescribed medicines aren’t used by patients.
When prescription drugs are unused or taken incorrectly, it can lead to further medical problems. Up to 69% of medication-related hospital admissions are due to poor medication adherence. The cost of these hospital admissions is around $100 billion per annum.
Helping patients to adhere to prescriptions at home, and to facilitate the taking of medications is vital for patient health and recovery.
Why is it important to help patients facilitate their medical treatment?
If patients understand the importance of adhering to medical treatments then there will be fewer hospital admissions and huge financial savings.
It is vital to assist patients with medication adherence as they need to continue their recovery at home after being discharged. It is at this point where poor medication adherence often begins.
The reasons for poor adherence vary from forgetfulness to struggles with swallowing pills. Devices such as the Silent Knight pill crusher help patients make pills more palatable and easier to ingest.
Why do some people struggle to take medicine?
There are a number of reasons why individuals exhibit nonadherence to medications including the following.
- Cost of prescriptions
- Lack of motivation
- Too many medications
- Confusion over instructions
- No symptoms/mistrust
- Other illnesses
Some people find swallowing pills difficult, and illnesses such as Parkinson’s can make it difficult to swallow. Some patients may become confused over dosages and have too many medications.
Another common reason that people stop taking medication is due to a lack of symptoms. Many patients perceive a lack of symptoms as the time to stop taking their medication which can result in setbacks and further hospital admissions.
How can you facilitate patients’ adherence to medication?
Up to 50% of patients fail to take prescribed medicines properly, and one simple reason why is a fear of gagging. If a pill has an unpleasant taste then it can be difficult to swallow.
One study showed that people with higher numbers of taste receptors on their tongues found it more difficult to swallow medication. There are devices to help these patients such as pill crushers and automated mixers which let the individual mix the medicine into a drink to make it more palatable.
However, there are other ways to help patients take medicine as it is prescribed including encouragement and motivation. Someone suffering from depression can easily fail to take medication as prescribed so motivating mental health recovery is vital.
How to ensure patients take medicine as prescribed
In cases where patients are worried about side effects, the cost of medications, or lack interest due to depression or other concerns, it can be effective to talk through why the individual should adhere to their prescription.
Making it clear how medical treatment will help a patient can improve self-motivation. Encourage patients to build goals and find reasons to take their medication. A better quality of life, being able to play with their grandchildren, and getting back to work are some examples.
Tools such as pill boxes can be used to keep track of when to take medications and to avoid doubling up by accident. Some pill crushers are designed for anyone too weak to grind tablets up. And family can be enlisted to help monitor dosages and make a medication planner.
Is it safe to crush and mix pills?
With many patients, the problem with medication adherence is that they don’t want to take pills. Some people will have several prescriptions, and taking several pills every day can become tiresome. But, other patients simply cannot swallow pills. The size or taste of the pill can put people off, or it could be the thought of swallowing pills that leads to an involuntary gag reflex.
Pill crushers are easily available. Many parents use them to get children to take their medication. Normally, a patient would crush up their pills and mix them into a drink and swallow the medication that way.
Crushing pills makes them easier to swallow. Yet, before anyone crushes pills they should ask for advice from their doctor. The online pharmacy industry will have an impact on healthcare and make life more convenient for patients. but medical advice must always be sought.
By helping patients to facilitate taking their medical treatment, billions of dollars can be saved, and huge numbers of hospital admissions avoided. If patients are encouraged to adhere to prescriptions then less medication will be wasted and recovery times will improve.
In the case of patients who find it difficult to swallow pills or those who are taking several tablets a day, pill crushers may help facilitate their treatment.