Research shows that patient adherence to long-term therapies, such as those needed for chronic diseases, averages only 50%. Whether asthma, sleep apnoea, hypertension, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS, there is strong evidence that patients with chronic illnesses have difficulty adhering to the treatment regimens recommended by their healthcare providers.
Lack of adherence is a serious matter for both patient and healthcare systems. For patients, it means a less-than-optimal management of their illness, which can lead to disease complications. For healthcare systems, it represents a waste of resources: patients’ conditions can worsen, increasing the need for more acute—and costly—care. The first step to improved adherence is understanding why patients don’t follow their treatment plans. And the reasons for non-adherence can range from debilitating side effects, lack of information on the importance of adherence, or treatments that place a heavy financial or quality-of-life burden on patients.
To improve adherence, healthcare stakeholders must coordinate to support patients, evolve healthcare systems and create a multidisciplinary approach to adherence.
Improving long-term treatment adherence will require a multi-pronged approach. The good news is that many types of initiatives that have been shown to improve treatment adherence, including:
• Training healthcare professionals on treatment adherence issues
• Incorporating clinical assessment and behaviour change tools into long-term chronic disease treatment and care programmes
• Deploying e-health and m-health technologies to improve communication and dialogue between patients and healthcare professionals
• Minimising dose frequency and medication side effects through partnerships between healthcare providers, patients, researchers and pharmaceutical companies
EU Whitepaper, Action 2 pp.13-14.
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.