Health and Wellness

Getting Better Health Care

Dr. Steve Feldman MD

Getting Better Health Care – Patients may not be taking their medication (Part 1)

Modern medications are light years ahead of the treatments doctors had to offer years ago, but many patients don’t get the full benefit. Studies have shown that many patients aren’t taking their medication. We’re joined today by Dr. Nathaniel M. Rickles, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Administration
Northeastern University
and author of Social and Behavioral Aspects of Pharmaceutical Care. In this two-part episode, Dr. Rickles describes why patients don’t take their medication and some strategies to help patients do better.

Part 1 of the program focuses on what we know about patients’ use of their medicine. Patients beliefs about medication are a major determinant of whether they use their medicine or not, something called “adherence” to treatment. Dr. Rickles describes the major known reason about why patients don’t take medication including their motivation, beliefs, costs, accessibility and even forgetfulness. Dr. Rickles points out that patients are taking a greater role in their health care decisions and need information for making good choices.

In part 2 of this program, Rickles explains what role pharmacists have. It has changed a lot from the time in which there was a mom and pop druggist who knew the patient and had a relationship with the patient, a relationship that came with trust. Community pharmacists can still help patients a great deal, and in one study the relationship with pharmacist was the number 1 predictor of medication use. Dr. Rickles also discusses the relationship between pharmacists and physicians and how they can help each other.

In order to facilitate the behavioral changes that will lead to better health outcomes, Dr. Rickles recommends that health care providers have empathy and stop & listen to learn what is important to their patients. At the same time, there are things patients can do, including sharing their concerns with their doctors.