Asthma is a common and costly condition, impacting around 25 million people in the U.S. and upwards of 262 million globally. Although treating asthma is possible with the right treatment plan, non-adherence to asthma medications poses a problem, exacerbating health outcomes and increasing the cost of care.
Here is what you need to know about preventing medication non-adherence in patients with asthma:
Identifying Barriers to Asthma Adherence
To prevent non-adherence in patients with asthma, you must understand the reasons behind it: What causes patients with asthma to avoid taking their medications as prescribed? Numerous factors are associated with non-adherence to asthma therapy, including:
Asthma varies from patient to patient in terms of symptoms and severity and tends to be episodic. Patients who feel their daily life is unaffected by asthma are less likely to adhere. Some non-adherent patients even have doubts about the accuracy of their asthma diagnosis due to the absence of symptoms in day-to-day life.
Cost plays a substantial role in non-adherence among patients with asthma. In one study, 25 percent of respondents reported not refilling their medications due to high costs. A third of surveyed patients even reported decreasing doses to make their prescriptions last longer. In addition to costs, poor health literacy, limited access to pharmacies or medications (in this case, inhalers), and other socioeconomic factors come into play.
There are also medication-related barriers to asthma adherence. Difficulties with inhaler devices, complex dosing regimens, and perceived side effects can lead to non-adherent behavior in patients. Some inhalers are not very user-friendly, making it difficult for patients to discern whether they used their inhalers correctly and received the full dose of the inhaled medication.
Behavioral barriers exist as well. For example, forgetfulness and unwillingness both impact medication adherence. Some patients have trouble incorporating asthma medications into their routine due to memory—especially when prescribed more complex, multi-dose drug regimens. Unwillingness can stem from many sources, including denial, depression, and concerns about stigma.
4 Ways to Prevent Asthma Non-Adherence
Once you understand the factors influencing asthma non-adherence, you can take steps to prevent it from occurring. Here’s how:
1. Simplify Medication Regimens
Regimen complexity is commonly seen in conditions with long-term medication therapy, such as asthma. Complex asthma medication regimens can impede proper adherence, even in the most disciplined patients. When possible, simplifying medication regimens with once-daily dosing can improve adherence in patients with asthma.
2. Improve Patient Education
Health literacy, patient education, and prescribing instructions all play a role in asthma medication adherence. Individuals taking medications need to know what disease they’re treating, why they’re treating it, how to properly adhere, and the potential consequences of non-adherence. The same is true for patients with asthma.
3. Use a Reminder System
Due to advances in healthcare technology, there are now numerous solutions that can address memory-related non-adherence in patients with asthma. From smart pill bottles and automated text reminders to handwritten notes and smartphone alarms, patients have many options that can remind them to take their medications on time and as prescribed.
4. Personalize Interventions
A cookie-cutter approach doesn’t cut it in healthcare. No two asthma patients are the same, which is why personalization matters in adherence. Artificial intelligence (AI) is now used to identify and prioritize patients with high risks of non-adherence who are most likely to be influenced by interventions of a patient support program. AI can also personalize the intervention by content, channel, timing, and frequency for each patient leading to better engagement and positive medication behaviors.
Using AI to Address Asthma Non-Adherence
Although medication non-adherence continues to be a common problem for patients with asthma, there are steps we can take to improve. AllazoHealth’s AI platform uses identified data pulled from various sources to deliver personalized and effective interventions, improve adherence, and close gaps in therapy.