NEHI Study Estimates Cost of Medication Non-Compliance

By August 19, 2009Commentary

The New England HealthCare Institute has released a report projecting the current costs of patients’ failures to follow medication regimens.  Basing its conclusion upon earlier research which used a model to estimate these costs,  NEHI says we are spending $290 billion on medical care which could be avoided with full adherence to therapy.  (NEHI Article)   While there is no question that medication therapy compliance is a serious problem, the method used to estimate these costs is not particularly rigorous and uses questionable assumptions.  The very large number which results is almost certainly a significant overstatement of the avoidable costs. 

Notwithstanding the questionable methodology, the report does an excellent job of setting out a number of approaches to improve medication adherence.  In addition to adherence, as the report recognizes, there is also a need to manage medication therapy better.  Often patients are under or over-dosed, put on medications they don’t need, not put on ones they do need and left on drugs which are giving them significant side effects.  Poor medication therapy management is a root cause of poor medication adherence and should be addressed first in identifying adherence issues.

Kevin Roche

Author Kevin Roche

The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry through Roche Consulting, LLC. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements and may be reached at khroche@healthy-skeptic.com.

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