Survey: Patients concerned about taking medication properly

More than half of patients lack confidence in their ability to properly take new medications as directed, according to a survey released today by DrFirst, a leading provider of e-prescribing and patient medication management solutions.

Among the patients who had concerns about taking new medications correctly, two-thirds blamed their anxiety on a lack of time with physicians at the point of care.

The survey, which focused on patients with non-chronic conditions, also found that the least preferred format for educational information on medications is written materials. Overall, respondents would most prefer learning about a drug's purpose and potential side effects from a short online video sent by their doctor or pharmacist via a link.

"At a time when most physicians are working at full capacity and have less time for face-to-face patient encounters, it's critical that we seek alternative methods for educating patients about how to safely take new medications and about each drug's potential side effects," DrFirst president Cameron Deemer said. "Rather than rely on written handouts from doctors and pharmacists, we must take advantage of technologies like smartphones and patient portals to deliver impactful, customized details about prescribed medications."

The study also found that most patients are interested in reducing their out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications. This finding is in line with a released analysis from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, which found that spending for retail prescription drugs reached $333.4 billion in 2017, and that those rising costs represent 10% of overall healthcare spend, the company said.

The DrFirst survey revealed that more than three-quarters of respondents reported trying to obtain coupons or drug discounts for a new prescription, either online or by asking their doctor or pharmacist. In addition, 64% of patients would take advantage of an opportunity to prepay for out-of-pocket prescription costs in order to receive a discounted price. These new findings are consistent with a previous DrFirst survey, which revealed that 73% of patients would change pharmacies if they knew it would save them money on a prescription.

Prescription drug pricing and medication adherence are strongly correlated, as noted in a 2017 Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll. That survey found that 67% of patients who failed to fill their prescriptions in the last 90 days reported high costs as the reason. These combined findings indicate that giving patients an option for coupons, discounts or lower-priced pharmacies could drive medication adherence, reduce prescription abandonment and improve health outcomes, according to the company.

Respondents to the online survey of 200 patients were 40% male and 60% female. Eighty-three percent reported having health insurance. The largest age group represented was between 25-and-34 years old (35%), followed by 18-to-24 years old (22%) and 35-to-44 years old (18%). Respondents qualified for the survey only if they had filled at least one prescription in the last six months, with almost two-thirds reporting they fill a prescription medicine at least once a month.