Physician Perception of Medication Adherence regarding Medicare

This article details a study that was completed in order to study whether or not physicians truly understood how widespread the lack of adherence there was in their particular patient populations. Non adherence is a rampant problem in the elderly population who are the most common patients who have chronic diseases. Diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia require strong adherence in their therapies in order to achieve the most successful results, and patients can quickly slip out of their goal ranges for the management of their symptoms if they are not on top of taking their daily regimens. The focus of the study was to first determine the physicians’ personal perceptions of their populations’ adherence, and then compare them to the actual data of adherence that were provided by the statistical claims.

The study was completed by the distribution of surveys to primary care physicians in a Texan MD-PA plan that was covered by Medicare Part D. The questionnaire was given to these 226 doctors at quarterly meetings and they were asked questions along the line of what percentage of their patients did they believe were adherent in the medication regimens, what income bracket did the most adherent people come from, etc. The study concluded that primary care physicians were equally likely to both underestimate, or overestimate how adherent their population was.

Overall, I do not believe that this article is very important to the field of pharmacy. First off, this is just a qualitative survey that was given to the doctors, so the whole thing was based on personal opinions. Without a source of hard data, this study cannot prove much on its own. I also believe that adherence changes drastically based upon the environment, so completing this survey in only one health system would not provide a good overview for physicians’ opinions on adherence on the grand scale.
J Manag Care Spec Pharm, 2016 Mar;22(3):305-312.

3 thoughts on “Physician Perception of Medication Adherence regarding Medicare”

  1. Your opinions on this article are very well-founded and I wholeheartedly agree. Studies like this are barely scientific in nature and often produce inconclusive results, as this one did. These types of studies may also feed in the collective ego of pharmacists when it comes to their attitude on their own knowledge of medications, as we often feel like we know more than the doctors do even though studies do not always confirm this. Despite this, I do think this is a very interesting topic, and I would enjoy researching much better conducted studies that elucidate nonadherence patterns and what role a physician’s ignorance of his/her patient’s nonadherence may play.

  2. I agree that there should be a better system not just for evaluating what doctors think about adherence but also for identifying what patients are actually not adherent. This survey asked questions about who they thought had the worst adherence, but is unclear to me why that is important. Instead, there should probably be more focus on educating patients about their medications and providers about how to help patients be more adherent. While the doctor is concerned about this I’m sure, the more accessible pharmacist is probably who should be the real expert here.

  3. I do feel that this is a problem that should be paid more close attention to. Adherence in addition to communication between the doctor and patient regarding which medications they are to be taking at any given time is something that lacks at times. Perhaps more effective communication between the doctor and the pharmacist could keep them on the same page. For instance if someone never picks up a refill of their medication and it is on file they may ask to have all of their medications filled that have refills and inadvertently receive a medication that they do not need. These sorts of situations in addition to that of adherence do need to be addressed by both the doctor and the pharmacist and it is essential that the doctor, pharmacist, and the patient are all on the same page in regards to the individual patient’s drug therapy.

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