The Undeniable Truth: How Patient Demographics Impact Nonadherence

medication nonadherence

Every patient is unique with their own set of health needs, concerns, and willingness to adhere to medical advice. Ever wondered how varying patient demographics influence these factors? Let’s dive into patient demographics, how they impact health, and how to overcome barriers to medication adherence. 

What are patient demographics?

The pieces of information used to identify or segment a patient population. Examples of demographic data points include name, date of birth, biological sex, gender, ethnicity, and race. Additionally, healthcare providers also use condition-specific demographics. The goal of patient demographics is to allow healthcare providers to understand who exactly their patients are. This level of understanding is key to ensuring that the highest level of care is delivered to each patient. 

How patient demographics can impact care and outcomes

Researchers have found correlations between certain demographics and patients’ propensity to engage in healthy behaviors such as remaining adherent to their medication regimens. By understanding demographic groups and their likelihood to follow medical advice, properly take medications, and live healthy lifestyles, care teams can create programs to address the unique shortfalls of each patient demographic. 

A strong understanding of patient demographics also allows healthcare providers to make the best decisions possible for their patients. The increase in patient diversity – from ethnic background to health status – has created the need for healthcare to embrace cultural competence. In essence, the ability for care teams to provide specific services that meet the cultural, social, and linguistic needs of varied patients.  

Imagine a low-income patient living in a rural location, miles from the healthcare infrastructure that many take for granted. Due to the patient’s low income, they are more likely to struggle with lack of transportation. Coupled with their rural location, a recipe for poor health outcomes quickly emerges. This patient – with thousands like them – is unlikely to have adequate healthcare access. Now consider a high-income individual living in an urban environment. This patient likely has greater access to healthcare and their high income ensures that payment is not a barrier.  

organizing medications

Examples of patient demographics that impact medication nonadherence

Medication adherence continues to be critical to managing health. Research and outcomes prove that medications simply don’t work if they aren’t taken properly.  

Let’s revisit our example of a low-income patient in a rural location. We already know that the patient is likely experiencing lack of transportation to their local pharmacy and or clinician’s office. Not only are they at a higher propensity for missing annual physicals and vaccination appointments, but they are likely unable to fill prescriptions and remain adherent to those prescribed medications.  

Education also remains a critical component of the demographics creating higher propensity for medication nonadherence. Research has shown that education level is negatively correlated with medication adherence. Statistics show that patients with lower education levels are less likely to be adherent to their medication regimens, making them more likely to suffer from poorer clinical outcomes.  

How to overcome patient demographic challenges for medication adherence

It’s easy to discuss problems – but what about solutions? To solve for medication adherence, we must consider Pharmacist-led clinical programs – Now more than ever, the power of pharmacists is being recognized as able to educate and engage patients more effectively than traditional care team models.  

New models such as Aspen RxHealth empower pharmacists to increase their patient reach in a scalable way, while removing the burdensome duties of traditional pharmacy environments.  Our pharmacists educate patients across the country about their medications and the benefits of remaining adherent. When a pharmacist discovers a barrier to adherence, such as financial difficulties or transportation challenges, they can quickly engage the patient’s health plan and provide assistance programs, ensuring the patient has access to the medications they need. 

If you’re a pharmacist looking for a more fulfilling career path, it’s time to learn about joining the Aspen RxHealth Pharmacist Community.  

And if you’re a health plan looking for a clinical pharmacy partner, check out how we can support your medication adherence programs.