What’s the Deal with Diabetes Medication Adherence?

Diabetes Medication Adherence

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year. An estimated 34.2 million people have diabetes, and of those, 26.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes. Preventable complications of uncontrolled diabetes are costly to our healthcare system; the total direct and indirect cost of this diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion in 2017.

For patients living with diabetes, medication adherence is a critical component of managing the condition and living healthier lives. To mitigate the high cost of uncontrolled diabetes, providers, health systems, and payors must address the issue of medication adherence to better control risk factors, decrease odds of hospitalization, reduce health care costs, and lower mortality.

The issue of medication adherence is multifaceted and complex. Medication adherence includes much more than just taking prescribed medication. It includes:

  • Getting prescriptions filled
  • Understanding medication directions
  • Taking the prescribed dosage
  • Taking the medication at the right time and frequency

Many factors can impact adherence, including social determinants of health, insurance costs, healthcare system factors, and comorbidities. Overall, research has identified specific factors that appear to influence adherence to diabetes medication, such as the patient’s comprehension of the treatment regimen and its benefits, adverse effects, medication costs, and regimen complexity, as well as the patient’s emotional well-being. Below are additional evidence-based criteria that impact diabetes medication adherence:

The key to diabetes medication adherence is to ask questions in the right way, identify and understand each patient’s unique barriers, and work collaboratively with the entire care team to overcome these barriers. At CHESS, our pharmacists practice population health by holistically managing the patient while collaborating with care coordination, providers, and other healthcare professionals. This collaborative approach helps reinforce the importance of medication education and regular provider visits to prevent complications and improve outcomes.