Medication adherence can be defined as taking right medications at right times at right dosages. Medication adherence is the terminology used to indicate the adherence or lack of adherence to the prescribed medication administration plan by a health provider to a patient. Medication adherence is also known as medication compliance; however the former term is preferred nowadays.
Medication adherence rate is far greater in Assisted Living settings than those elders living alone at their own homes or taking minimal assistance from their caregivers. For instance, medication adherence rates of seniors living in assisted living communities are 30% higher than those living independently.
While medication adherence is generally discussed in relation to prescribed medications, it is essential to consider over the counter (OTC) medications, supplements, other medications and diet. For example, while PRN medications could be OTC products, it is essential to determine the right quantity and dosage and administer at right times based on the physician’s care plan.
Consequences of Medication Non-adherence in Elderly
It is estimated that over $300 billion is incurred as a wastage due to medication non-adherence in an year. According to the CDC, 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations are due to adverse drug effects (ADEs) annually. The elderly (65 years or older) are twice as likely as others to visit emergency departments as a result of adverse drug events.
Consequences of medication non-adherence in the elderly adults are pretty significant leading to many issues such as the following:
- Progression of diseases
- Hospital visits due to medication errors
- Risk of hospital re-admissions
- Increased Fall risk
- Poor outcomes
Medication Adherence and Technology Tools
Technology tools such as Carevium eMAR software can help caregivers and med aides in assisted living communities, memory care facilities, and residential care homes to improve the medication adherence rate with more accuracy and reduced errors. In addition to boosting medication adherence, reconciliation is a breeze when the software tools are employed correctly.
eMAR application can provide reminders and alerts to the med aides via emails, SMS text messages or push notifications when necessary. The app will also provide information of dose times, medications strength, etc. on a timely basis.
Vital Sign readings (such blood pressure) can be scheduled with the medication administration, so that medication dosage can be planned accordingly.
Also, medication management can be simplified with the aid of technology. Medication inventory tracking, controlled substances monitoring, refill reminders / re-ordering, etc. can be made more efficient and less time consuming, so that the caregiver can focus on the resident care.
By providing secure access to administrators, caregivers, family members and providers, software applications can improve the medication adherence and reduce the risks associated with non-adherence. Increased medication compliance leads to better quality of care to the residents and results in family satisfaction.
With the advent of cloud and mobile technologies working together, many medication management software and apps can work on smart phones or mobile tablets providing easy and immediate access to the caregivers in elder care communities.