9.08.2009

Reducing Costs By Getting Patients to Take Their Medication

Are customers responsible for following a lean strategy?

I ask that question after reading about a new report that describes the high healthcare costs that stem from patients not taking their medication.

The report is from the New England Healthcare Institute. As described in an article by Health Leaders Media, the report notes that problems with what is called medication adherence account for as much as 13 percent of total national healthcare expenditures.

The four most promising solutions, according to the report, are:

  • Creation of health care teams that can increase the number of checks on adherence as patients move through the healthcare system
  • Patient engagement and education so patients will better understand their role in improving their condition
  • Payment reform to give providers financial incentives to improve adherence
  • Leveraging use of information technologies for better tracking of adherence

It’s an interesting issue from a lean perspective. If you think of the goal of a healthcare organization not just as providing services, but as helping patients improve their health, then patient involvement is critical. It is kind of like a manufacturer working with his customer to focus on creating the most value.

By the way, in terms of technology, I recently came across something interesting directly related to adherence. Vitality, Inc. makes a product called GlowCaps. It is a prescription-bottle cap containing a wireless chip that links to a network and a plug-in light. After it is programmed, it can trigger the light to flash, and can even trigger a phone call, to remind you to take your pill. You can also arrange to have reports sent to you and your doctor, and it can connect you to your pharmacy when it’s time for a refill. Now that’s cool!

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