By the year 2030 the entire Baby Boomer generation will be age 65 or older. This growing number of senior Boomers will challenge the health care system, particularly when it comes to medication management and adherence. What are these challenges, and how can they best be addressed?
More chronic diseases = more medications
Approximately 85% of Americans over the age of 65 have at least one chronic disease, such as high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, while 60% have two or more such conditions. It’s not uncommon for seniors to be taking multiple prescription or nonprescription medications for these conditions. An article in American Nurse stated that approximately 44% of men and 57% of women older than age 65 took five or more medications per week.
What does this mean for medication management and adherence? Older patients are likely to be under medical care for more than one chronic condition, from more than one doctor, who has prescribed more than one medication. The end result is a complex regimen that can get more confusing for the patient with each added medication.
- Pharmaceutical innovations, such as extended-release formulations or combination medications may reduce both the number of medications seniors must take, as well as how often.
- Improving coordination to allow pharmacies to consolidate all prescriptions for one patient to the same pharmacy can increase medication adherence and reduce adverse drug interactions.
Decreased health literacy
Health literacy has been defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Unfortunately most patient-education materials are written at a reading level above that of the average US resident. Health literacy levels for seniors are even lower. According to a survey from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL): 71% of adults ages 60 and older had difficulty using print materials; 80% had difficulty using forms or charts; and 68% had difficulty interpreting numbers and doing simple mathematic calculations.
- Artificial intelligence technology can help train pharmacists and providers on how to simplify language when explaining complex medical and insurance issues to patients.
- Similarly, digital health literacy solutions can guide pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies in developing senior-friendly educational materials, and can help payers simplify their documents and forms.
Medicare medication costs: going up
Medication costs have steadily risen, particularly for seniors who are on Medicare. A recent article in the journal Medical Care showed that almost half of Medicare enrollees did not take their medications as prescribed, due to high costs. Furthermore, 24% of enrollees went without other essentials, such as utilities or food, in order to pay for their medications.
- By redesigning patient cost sharing programs to help manage the cost of medications, pharmaceutical companies can make prescriptions more affordable and improve adherence rates.
How AI improves senior adherence
Today’s AI technology can predict which senior patients are at risk for non-adherence or other gaps in care, and who are likely to respond to outreach. AI technology can then personalize each patient intervention by channel, content and timing to deliver the most effective engagement.
AllazoHealth uses artificial intelligence to make a positive impact on individual patient behavior. We optimize medication adherence and quality outcomes for pharmaceutical companies, payers, and pharmacies.
Building on our success in adherence, we have expanded our implementation of AI to include closing gaps in care and improving therapy initiation.