The Healthcare Costs of Poor Patient Compliance


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The saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” also applies to healthcare: you can prescribe the perfect treatment plan to help a patient, but you can’t force the patient to comply. In many ways, patient outcomes rely on intrinsic motivation and the heavy involvement of healthcare providers in treatment plans, both in and out of the office.

Traditionally, physicians have assessed the success of their treatment plans through periodic monitoring at appointments, rather than continuous remote care. While that is changing, it does come with its own predicaments for healthcare providers.

One of the greatest challenges faced by physicians in the remote care of chronic diseases is motivating patients to comply with their treatment plans outside the office. This problem is associated with relatively high rates of medication nonadherence, as well as billions of dollars in wasted healthcare costs each year.

According to the University of Pittsburgh, the average rate of medication adherence is 79%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2017 Grand Rounds attests that one in five new prescriptions is never filled, and of those that are filled, half are taken incorrectly.

The tangible and intangible costs of poor patient compliance are high, including wasted resources, additional labor, poorer patient outcomes, and compromised insurance coverage. Improving patient compliance presents a conundrum for healthcare professionals, but it is essential to do so in order to save costs—and to better patients’ lives.

Financial Costs of Poor Patient Compliance

Physicians know that the time spent with a patient in the office represents only a small sliver of patient behavior. How a patient acts outside the office makes the most significant difference in terms of cost savings and quality of life.

Direct healthcare costs associated with medication nonadherence are estimated to be between $100 and $300 billion each year. The financial costs of poor patient compliance include the following.

Cost of Disease Progression
More patients comply with medications that are curative than with ones that are preventative. Unfortunately, many chronic diseases have yet to be cured, meaning prevention may be the best strategy in addressing them. Lack of adherence to a preventative treatment plan can lead to the development of or progression of diseases, requiring more care over time and increasing healthcare costs for physicians and hospitals.

Cost of Readmissions

Failure to comply with a chronic disease management plan after discharge from the hospital may result in exacerbations or emergencies requiring readmission. Over time, repeat readmissions have been found to significantly decrease hospital profitability due to the greater use of medical resources.

Wasted Resources

Medications may be the most prominent healthcare resources that are wasted when patients do not adhere to their treatment plan. Medication nonadherence includes fulfillment nonadherence, when patients never fill their medications, and non-persistence, when patients fail to continue taking medications over time. Both of these lead to wasted medications and greater use of hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.

Labor Burden

Medication nonadherence requires increased behavioral support of chronic disease patients. As a result, they can easily overwhelm a busy care staff, including administrators, nurses, and physicians. Other patients’ care can also suffer as a result.

Insurance Costs

Insurance companies may not cover the cost of treatment if patients are non-compliant. If patients demonstrate even one day of nonadherence to their treatment plan, insurers may use it as an excuse not to cover the cost of hospital stays. Thus, private practices and hospitals may end up providing care that is never reimbursed, resulting in profit loss.

How Oxitone Improves Patient Compliance

To improve patient adherence, the CDC recommends team-based coordinated care. It also recommends utilizing advances in medical technology to improve patient compliance. These advances can make team-based coordinated care simpler and less labor-intensive for hospital employees, as well as directly encourage patients to adhere to their treatment plans.

Wearable medical devices like Oxitone stand at the forefront of new technology for improving patient compliance. These devices provide individualized care by collecting patients’ unique data. By personalizing care and simplifying the participation process, modern medical devices like Oxitone can directly improve patient compliance.

Oxitone also has predictive power that can reduce the labor burden on healthcare providers when managing the care of chronic disease patients, while still preventing disease progression and hospital readmissions. For example, in studies of COPD patients, wearable SpO2 monitors were able to provide consistent data on oxygen saturation fluctuations, which has long been thought to be predictive of complications and exacerbations in COPD.

Improving patient compliance conserves resources in the long term, allowing hospitals to serve more patients and provide better care to those with chronic disease. Wearable medical devices like Oxitone can help physicians and hospital administrators alike achieve their financial goals and improve patient outcomes.

Here at Oxitone, we boost value-based healthcare by delivering extraordinary patient, clinical, and economical outcomes at reduced medical utilization and cost. Patients need a prompt response to emergencies. Physicians need an easy and timely follow-up with patients. Our mission is to transform chronic disease management and help save lives worldwide.

Let’s save lives together! To see how we help remote patient monitoring companies and physicians improve the management and care of high-risk patients, contact us today!

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