How to curb patient noncompliance--and the soaring healthcare costs that result

Medical noncompliance is projected to contribute $100 billion a year to the cost of U.S. healthcare. That number could rise even higher given new research in Psychological Science showed that when patients are faced with a choice that requires them to make a proactive decision, they often chose to do nothing.

In one article, when researchers told participants that pressing a button would reduce the chance of receiving an electric shock by as much as 90 percent, participants opted to leave the button untouched half the time, even though they would have to endure shocks they rated as highly undesirable, according to the research announcement.

To prevent patient inaction from leading to costly medical noncompliance, the researchers noted "nudging patients in the right direction" can help them make productive health choices.

Similarly, in the second article, researchers found encouraging patients to contemplate their reasons for seeking or avoiding health information makes them more likely to follow up for their results. However, this only worked when patients thought the condition was treatable, the research announcement noted.

Patient noncompliance is a major problem when it comes to patients taking their medications as prescribed. Last month, Americans received a C+ for medication adherence, with one in seven adults receiving a failing grade, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association's latest report card.

Getting patients to change their ways involves communicating with noncompliant patients in a more effective way, by, for example, letting patients identify their own barriers. Providers can ask more open-ended questions to redirect time spent lecturing or interrupting patients toward summarizing what patients are saying about the challenges they face and encouraging them to develop solutions that work for them, FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

For more:
- here's the research announcement