Syncing Treatments

Enhancing Patients’ Treatment Adherence


Poor adherence is nearly ubiquitous, and measures to improve adherence are low hanging fruit for improving patients’ outcomes.  Improving patients’ adherence doesn’t require brain surgery.  Sometimes, very simple, common sense measures can make a meaningful difference.

For patients who are on multiple drugs, one of the simplest things to do is to sync up patients’ prescriptions.  It makes no sense to have the patient go to the pharmacy several times a month to fill their various medications.  Every separate trip is another opportunity to delay, miss doses or fall off treatment.  By getting all their prescriptions in sync—so that patients only need to make one trip to the pharmacy to get all their medications—we can minimize these non-adherence risks.

Getting patients scripts in sync may be a bit of logistical issue.  Pharmacies and insurers realize the negative implications of poor adherence and may be helpful, allowing more doses to be prescribed than the usual 30 days in order to sync the prescriptions up.  Giving some samples or prescribing an increased dose for a brief period may be other practical ways to get patients enough medication to get their prescriptions synced up.

—Dr. Steven Feldman is a professor of dermatology and public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, where he studies patients’ adherence to treatment. He is also Chief Science Officer of Causa Reseach, an adherence solutions company, founder of and author of “Compartments”.