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Tips for Increasing Medication Adherence in Consumers with Diabetes


medication adherence in consumers with diabetes

The American Diabetes Association says that every 21 seconds, another person in the U.S. receives a diabetes diagnosis. At this pace, the numbers climb quickly. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes.

How can healthcare providers forge stronger connections to improve health outcomes among consumers with diabetes?

Tackling Medication Adherence with Patient Insights

It’s a forehead-slapping moment most people have experienced. Distracted by the daily demands of life — at home or work — you forget to take your medicine. Maybe it happens only on rare occasions with little to no long-term impact. But for healthcare consumers with diabetes or another chronic disease, poor diabetes medication adherence exacts a serious toll: 

  • More than 20 percent never fill new prescriptions
  • 30 percent miss at least one dose of medication a month
  • 50 percent do not take medications as prescribed

In fact, 69 percent of medication-related hospital admissions happen because patients fail to take medicines as prescribed, leading to an estimated 125,000 deaths a year, and total healthcare costs over $317 billion a year

Several factors contribute to non-compliance with a diabetes care regimen. Signs that a patient may need support and education on the importance of medication adherence include: 

  • Missed prescription refills or appointments
  • Poor understanding of diabetes
  • Lack of symptoms that might prompt more proactive behaviors

Such failures may be due to various reasons — from low literacy and language barriers, lack of prescription drug coverage and other financial hardships to forgetfulness, poor eyesight or depression. Healthcare providers can focus on building trusted relationships with consumers with diabetes, but patients also bring distinct beliefs to their healthcare experiences that contribute to low medication adherence. Some may resist medication because they fear side effects; others may do so because they think they can manage their health condition without prescription drugs. 

Drive More Positive Health Outcomes with Psychographics 

To move the needle on medication adherence among consumers with diabetes, hospitals and other healthcare providers must recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach based on diagnosis is bound to miss the mark. The American Association of Diabetes Educators contends that “The most effective interventions consider the relationship between medication-taking behaviors and patient understanding, beliefs, feelings and everyday life.” 

Psychographic segmentation can help healthcare providers better understand how consumers with diabetes approach health and wellness, where they seek out information about their disease and what motivates them to be more proactive about addressing health issues. 

Preferred Way of Receiving Information About Prescriptions for Your Health Condition

For example, c2b data on consumers with diabetes finds variations in how different patient segments — Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers — want to receive information about prescriptions for their health condition: Email beats out other ways across all segments, followed by printed materials like direct mail or brochures. Also, Self Achievers and Willful Endurers are more open to online video calls. Direction Takers are least likely to want to receive information on medication, with Priority Jugglers and Willful Endurers close behind. 

Likewise, when it comes to prescription refill reminders, email reigns supreme as the most-preferred approach. However, when it comes to other means of prescription refill reminders to consumers with diabetes, c2b Consumer Diagnostic data uncovers interesting variations. 

Text messages were ranked second across all segments for receiving timely prescription refill reminders. However, Self Achievers prefer texts at a higher rate compared to Priority Jugglers. The data suggest that Priority Jugglers don’t want reminders that require them to pick up the phone: They show very little interest in live or automated phone calls and zero interest in online video chats. Convenience is key for this busy segment.

By understanding both external and internal influences on medication adherence, healthcare practitioners, insurance providers and even employers are better positioned to collaborate with patients to achieve better health outcomes.Try these medication adherence tips for communicating with consumers with diabetes:

    • Don’t judge. Listen to the patient’s concerns and ask open-ended questions to draw out the underlying reasons the patient is resistant to taking medication as it is prescribed. A Direction Taker may want to follow a physician’s recommendations but struggle to do because it’s difficult to get to the pharmacy. A Priority Juggler, on the other hand, may feel overwhelmed with family or work obligations. Finger-pointing won’t help with medication adherence in either of those circumstances. 
    • Avoid jargon and overly-technical explanations. A diabetes diagnosis often comes with a litany of abbreviations based on blood work. Consumers with diabetes need to recognize abbreviations like A1C, LDL or HDL, but, more importantly, they need to understand the significance of those terms. Explain in plain language how a patient’s A1C translates to short- and long-term health outcomes and the role that medication plays in helping to lower A1C over time to prevent diabetes complications. 
    • Clarify what the patient knows. What’s obvious to a physician may not be to a layperson. Balance Seekers, for example, search out health-related information from a variety of sources — not all of them based on traditional medicine — so it’s important to understand concerns a patient has about a medication based on his or her own research. 

Understanding what makes consumers with diabetes tick enables healthcare providers to develop relevant, targeted messages that motivate patients to manage health conditions more effectively and lead to better health outcomes. Do you have the insights and medication adherence tips you need?

For more on psychographic segmentation as it relates to consumers with diabetes, download our whitepaper

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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