Guest Post: 10 Medication Adherence Facts to Know in 2015

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
This post was written by Troy Hilsenroth

medication adherence

$105 billion of avoidable U.S. healthcare costs is due to medication non-adherence.

With 50 percent of Americans suffering from at least one chronic condition in their lifetime, medication management affects nearly everyone at some point. Whether an individual takes multiple medications or cares for a family member who is, the importance of taking medications as prescribed is highly undervalued. While missing a pill one day may seem insignificant, the effects of these habits can be highly detrimental and far-reaching, as guest blogger Troy Hilsenroth explains.

Not taking medication as prescribed, or medication non-adherence, can result in costly hospital bills, declines in patient wellness, and medical complications among other outcomes. Due to these very real risks, additional awareness about this serious public health issue is crucial moving into 2015.

Pharmacists already possess the patient care tools necessary to help with this problem. Patients need to access available tools to improve their medication adherence and educate themselves about their meds. The first step in reversing these trends is to promote education around the severity of medication non-adherence.

The following are ten medication adherence statistics to know in 2015:

  • In the United States, avoidable healthcare costs add up to $213 billion, of which $105 billion is due to medication non-adherence, according to the Express Scripts 2013 Drug Trend Report.
  • Non-adherence causes 30-50 percent of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually. 1
  • 64 percent of readmissions within 30 days are due to medication issues, according to HIN’s 2010 Benchmarks in Improving Medication Adherence.
  • Medications are not continued as prescribed in about 50 percent of cases, according to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presentation.
  • Nearly 50 percent of Americans have one or more chronic conditions that require prescription medications, according to the CDC.
  • Medication adherence is higher among patients who see the same healthcare provider each time they have a medical appointment. In this group, the average adherence is 81 percent, according to “Medication Adherence in America: A National Report Card,” a recent report from the National Community Pharmacists Association.
  • Non-adherent patients are 17 percent more likely to be hospitalized than adherent patients, with a cost that exceeds that of an adherent patient by $3,575. 2
  • Generic medications have higher rates of adherence than name brand prescriptions, with 77 percent of patients adhering to generics as opposed to 71 percent with the name brand. 3
  • For some classes of medication, up to 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled by the patient, according to the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI).
  • Patients receive 3.4 more refills per prescription in a 12-month period when their refills are synchronized, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Medication non-adherence poses a very real risk for patients and their providers. A collaborative care team including physicians, pharmacists, and the patient is crucial to continuing education on this issue and establishing a medication management strategy to stay healthy and out of the hospital.

About the Author: Troy Hilsenroth has been with Omnicell for over six years, and currently serves as its vice president of the non-acute care division. In this role, he develops and delivers solutions to help organizations develop new and better ways of doing business and cultivates programs that change healthcare dynamics. Throughout his 22-year career in healthcare, his mission has been to deliver higher clinical quality at a lower cost. Prior to working at Omnicell, Troy served as a licensed clinical pharmacist for 14 years in a broad range of pharmacy environments, while also working as a firefighter and paramedic.

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.


1. Smith D, Compliance Packaging; a patient education tool, American Pharmacy, Vol. NS29, No 2, February 1989.
2. A. Dragomir et al. (May 2010.). Impact of Adherence to Antihypertensive Agents on Clinical Outcomes and Hospitalization Costs. Medical Care, 48 (418-425). doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3181d567bd
3. O’Riordan, Michael. (2014, September 15). Generics Beat Brand-Name Statins for Patient Adherence and Improving Outcomes. Medscape. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/831707

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