Unlocking Better Health: The Impact of Medication Adherence in Patient Care

Kelly Malkamaki

Kelly Malkamaki

Unlocking Better Health: The Impact of Medication Adherence in Patient Care

In my previous blog, I expressed my profound passion for medication adherence and my dedication to helping people improve their lives. Proper medication adherence is essential, as it can significantly enhance the well-being of numerous individuals. As a refresher, let's define adherence again based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) definition: "Medication adherence, or taking medications correctly, refers to the extent to which patients follow their doctors' prescribed medication regimen. It includes aspects such as obtaining and filling prescriptions, adhering to the prescribed dosing schedule, and comprehending the medication instructions".

In essence, patients are considered adherent if they take at least 80% of their prescribed medications, as directed by their healthcare providers.

Medication non-adherence continues to be a major problem that can lead to an increase in medical costs, overall treatment failure, poor health, and decreased quality of life. Statistics show that 50% of patients do not take their prescriptions properly for every 100 prescriptions written. In this sequel, I would like to touch upon all the available tools today to achieve compliance with taking medication properly.

Identifying the factors contributing to medication non-adherence is crucial to addressing the issue effectively. Several reasons, such as cost, limited health literacy, potential side effects, and medication accessibility, can influence people's ability to take their medications correctly. It is essential to foster an environment free from shame and blame, encouraging open discussions with patients about the underlying reasons for non-adherence.

Among the most common reasons for improper medication intake is forgetfulness or the challenges posed by busy and hectic lifestyles. Fortunately, various solutions now target this forgetfulness barrier, offering practical approaches to enhance adherence.

Various cost-effective solutions are available to address medication adherence, allowing individuals to manage their medications effectively from the comfort of their homes. These tools include simple at-home medication 

  • Reminder Charts
  • Daily or weekly pill organizers
  • Timers 
  • Digital Dispensers
  • Mobile Apps on Smartphones

Implementing one or a combination of these solutions can significantly aid in adherence for most individuals. However, it's crucial to recognize that each patient is unique, and finding the right tool or combination of tools tailored to their specific needs is essential for successful medication management. In this discussion, I would like to discuss in detail these different types of adherence tools. 


In situations where individuals lack access to a computer or smartphone, a straightforward daily journal or chart can prove to be a valuable tool. Such charts allow users to record their medication doses, note any missed doses, and provide essential information about when and how to take their medications. Additionally, these charts offer guidance on handling potential side effects, which can significantly impact medication adherence. By educating patients in advance on managing side effects, the likelihood of improved medication compliance is increased.

I have a great appreciation for pill organizers that efficiently separate medications by day and time of day, ensuring everything remains well-organized and accessible to patients. These organizers come in various types, from simple ones found in local drugstores to more advanced versions connected to smartphones and apps. The sophisticated digital dispensers offer a range of features, such as automatic dispensing, audio and visual alarms, medication information displays, and security locks, all contributing to preventing errors and overdosing.

The beauty of these digital dispensers is that they not only benefit patients but also provide caregivers and healthcare professionals with insights into medication adherence. For patients living alone, these dispensers act as an essential safety net, capable of triggering emergency calls if a certain number of medications are not taken.

Furthermore, pharmacies now offer compliance packaging services, which take care of the sorting and organizing for the patients and even provide home delivery of medications. Additionally, for those who struggle with remembering to take their medication, setting up alarms on phones or other devices can serve as helpful reminders. Overall, these innovative solutions greatly enhance medication management and contribute to improved patient outcomes.

The availability of "smart" pill bottles with sensors has revolutionized medication adherence. These bottles can prompt patients to remember taking their medications, and if doses are missed, the sensors can alert the pharmacy to intervene and support adherence. Such innovative solutions facilitate seamless communication between caregivers, patients, providers, and pharmacies, keeping everyone updated on medication adherence status.

Furthermore, some medications and devices now come equipped with built-in sensors, notifying patients and caregivers via wearable Bluetooth patches when medications are taken. This data can also be communicated to physicians, enabling them to monitor the patient's adherence closely.

Medication reminder apps are another cost-effective tool in promoting adherence. These free apps send alerts to patients, provide health-related education, refill reminders, drug interaction warnings, compliance rewards, and notify caregivers of non-compliance. Additionally, they maintain a record of the patient's medication history, valuable information for caregivers, pharmacies, and physicians in managing treatment options effectively.

Despite the array of available tools, individual patients' needs may vary. While some patients may benefit from the mentioned solutions, others may prefer simpler approaches like calls or texts from pharmacies, providers, or caregivers to encourage medication adherence. Overall, digital health and technology solutions have significantly enhanced our ability to address medication adherence challenges, allowing us to better assist patients in managing their medications and improving their overall health outcomes.


In conclusion, medication adherence is a critical aspect of healthcare that significantly impacts patient outcomes and quality of life. Non-adherence remains a prevalent issue, leading to various challenges and costs in the healthcare system. However, advancements in digital health and technology have provided an array of tools to improve medication adherence. From smart pill organizers to medication reminder apps and digital dispensers, these solutions offer valuable support to patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. While no one-size-fits-all approach exists, embracing these innovative tools and fostering open discussions with patients can help bridge the gap and achieve better medication adherence, ultimately leading to healthier and more fulfilling lives for countless individuals.

Kelly Malkamaki

Kelly Malkamaki

RPh, Senior Product Pharmacy Analyst

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