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Physicians’ views on non-adherence: important & influential

Senior Director, Social Media

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Healthprize, the adherence gamification company, wanted to find out how physicians think about patients not taking their medications. They looked at physicians who deal with the "big three" metabolic conditions: hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. The results were in places expected and surprising.


A whopping 96% of respondents placed the importance of medication adherence for clinical outcomes at 8 or higher (on a 10-point scale). It is clear that physicians understand that medication adherence is critical for their patients.

Likewise, respondents said that they engage in counseling during initial visits and during follow-ups. 92% said they “often” or “always” counsel patients at the time of prescription and 94% said the same for follow-up appointments.

Physicians understand how important adherence is

Physicians understand how important adherence is

Reasons for non-adherence

It is fairly well understood that “forgetting” is not actually the main reason that patients are non-adherent. When provided some common reasons, respondents put the blame on cost (#1) and side effects (#2 and #3):

Reasons for non-adherence according to physicians

Reasons for non-adherence according to physicians

We can see that education on side effects, including ways to mitigate them, and cost support are two important ways that pharmaceutical companies can help patients get the benefit of their medications. The full report also includes a list of the potential ways in which pharmaceutical companies could help including copay programs (of course), rewards (as provided by HealthPrize, naturally), and various reminder mechanisms.

Prescribing influence

Anyone who has interviewed even a few physicians knows that they are loath to admit to influence. In this study, HealthPrize asked whether a medication that had an “adherence service” would influence the way the physicians’ prescribing decisions. A stunning 72% said that they “might be more likely” or “would view it in a more positive light” for any product that had such a program:

Influence of an adherence program on prescribing attitudes

Influence of an adherence program on prescribing attitudes

Thrown in at the end of the report is also a chart that shows that 51% of respondents said it would even affect their willingness to interact with reps. This increased face time could be valuable for the brand to ensure that any such program is communicated clearly and remains top of mind for the target physicians.

These are significant findings and should make any brand manager run the numbers to see if an adherence program might have a positive ROI.

Who’s role is it?

An interesting secondary question was who was responsible for adherence. The physicians felt strongly that the primary responsibility lay in the doctor-patient interaction. Healthcare companies were ranked last, tied with employers.

This finding shows that any adherence program brought forward by a pharmaceutical company needs to use the doctor-patient relationship to reinforce its importance and ensure that both parties remain engaged. Trying to do an “end run” around the physician could backfire if there isn’t sufficient support in the medical clinic for the program.

You can find all of this and more in the HealthPrize white paper and infographic released today. They are both worth a read and consideration for brands that need to boost adherence.


More About the Author

Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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