With the rising costs of healthcare and the continuing threat of COVID-19, people are becoming more hesitant to go to checkups. To reduce their hesitation is in the healthcare providers’ hands, but even they can fail at convincing people to keep track of their health. After all, clinics and hospitals are hardly good places to be.
The environment in such places alone can trigger a patient’s anxiety, so they tend to avoid them, even at the cost of worsening symptoms. Moreover, despite knowing that delaying treatment can result in higher costs, people will still neglect their health as long as they don’t feel good about the healthcare experience.
To combat those challenges, healthcare providers must rely on only one ultimate weapon: improving the patient experience. When patients are satisfied with their doctors, they’re more likely to comply and complete their treatment.
But with the high number of non-compliant patients, does that mean healthcare providers haven’t been able to ensure a good experience? Below, we’ll identify what makes patients unwilling to follow treatments and what healthcare providers can do to reverse such behavior.
Common Reasons Patients Don’t Adhere to Treatments
The American Medical Association noted fear as one of the primary reasons patients don’t adhere to their medication. Patients feel afraid of experiencing adverse effects from taking their medication.
2. Having to Take More Than One Medication
Having to take more than one medication and keeping up with a higher frequency of doses make it more difficult for patients to commit to their treatment.
3. Experiencing Instant Relief or Ineffectiveness from Medication
If a patient’s symptoms instantly disappear after taking one dose of medication, they may see no reason to follow the prescribed regimen. On the other hand, if the medication doesn’t seem to work, they may get impatient and stop taking the drug altogether.
4. High Costs
High costs are another common reason for non-adherence. If a patient can’t afford the medication, they may only buy them at a quantity less than what was prescribed. As such, patients may decrease the dosage on their own, thus hindering them from complete recovery.
5. Inadequate Health Literacy
A patient may be eager to seek treatment. But if they don’t understand their diagnosis or the importance of taking medication, they won’t likely adhere to their treatment. Inadequate health literacy influences a patient’s beliefs and attitudes toward their healthcare. If they have COVID-19, for instance, but don’t believe or understand the disease, they might insist that they only have the flu, thus taking flu remedies that will never help them.
How Healthcare Providers Can Encourage Patient Compliance
Enhancing the patient experience is key to encouraging compliance. Healthcare providers must realize that patient satisfaction reflects the quality of care they receive. However, some studies point out that patient experience has no connection to the quality of care. Some studies state otherwise and found that better patient experience — even more than adherence and clinical guidelines — are linked to better outcomes.
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that patient experience is indeed a measure of care quality. As such, healthcare providers must focus on offering a positive patient experience through the following activities:
1. Use Patient Satisfaction as a Balance Measure
Healthcare providers tend to use patient satisfaction as a driver for outcomes. But they can see better results if they use it as a balance measure instead. A patient can have a good experience but still end up with a bad outcome, after all.
For example, if a hospital wants to shorten the hospital stay of mothers who gave birth, the length of stay is the outcome measure. But if mothers feel rushed toward the discharge, then the strategy of shortening hospital stays isn’t working. To prevent mothers from feeling rushed, the hospital should focus on their experience so that when they leave the hospital, they feel completely recovered. That way, balance is met.
2. Streamline Communications
Streamlining communications is the best solution to reduce fear, educate patients about diagnoses and treatments, and ultimately encourage compliance. Doctors shouldn’t just issue a prescription, expect patients to adhere, and end it at that. Instead, they should clearly communicate what has caused their patient’s condition, why they have to take a certain medication, and what the possible side effects are for that prescription. To help patients with budget constraints, doctors should prescribe generic medications, which are as effective as branded medicines but cheaper.
Healthcare providers can also streamline communications through patient portal services. These are websites or apps that allow patients access to their healthcare information 24/7. It shows records of their recent medical appointments, hospital records, medications, immunizations, lab results, and allergies. Some patient portals can also allow patients to request prescription refills and make payments.
With the right functions, a patient portal can be healthcare providers’ one-stop shop for all patient experience solutions. Again, balance must be met, so patients should be as adept with the software as their healthcare providers. In doing so, healthcare providers can encourage and ensure their patients’ compliance.