one-third to one-half of all patients do not take their medications
The New York Times recently reported on patients receiving financial incentives to take their medications or to comply with prescribed treatments. For example, a program in Philadelphia allows people to win $10 or $100 each day they take their drug — a lottery using a computerized pillbox.
According to the article, one-third to one-half of all patients do not take their medications and one-fourth do not fill prescriptions at all, which adds up to more than $100 billion in healthcare costs each year.
I usually have very strong opinions, but with this topic I can see both sides.
The Pros of Paying Patients
A modest amount awarded to patients would be cheaper than the cost of hospitalization. The article gives examples of affordable incentive programs that were successful. Even with people who know it’s essential to take their meds, such as transplant patients and their anti-rejection drugs, there are problems with adherence. So if this works, why not?
The Cons of Paying Patients
Once you’ve started by compensating people do you have continue indefinitely? What about rewarding the people who are following their doctor’s advice and taking medication?
During the #SocPharm tweetchat on June 16 this article generated some strong and interesting responses which you can read on SocialPharmer. As my colleague Frieda Hernandez tweeted: “I have really mixed feelings about paying patients for adherence. If it works, I guess ok, but it doesn’t pass the smell test.”
What do you think?
This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.
(Image courtesy of clevercupcakes on Flickr)