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Patient Non-Compliance a Pricey Problem

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2012

Though there is a great deal of discussion about the $750 billion that the U.S. spends annually on ordering unnecessary medical procedures, the financial waste resulting from patient non-compliance gets less press.

Hospital financial leaders are all too aware of the scope of the problem, however.

It has been estimated by numerous studies that one-third to one-half of all patients are non-compliant with medical direction. So what can hospital and health systems do to drive out patient non-compliance costs? The answer lies in financial incentives and population health efforts—but don't expect too much too soon, say healthcare CFOs gathered at the recent HealthLeaders Media CFO Exchange in Kiawah Island, SC.

Patient non-compliance is perhaps most easily seen in how patients fill and use prescription medications. As many as 20% to 30% of prescriptions for medication are never filled, and up to 50% of medications for chronic disease aren't taken as prescribed, according to a recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The analysis notes that the patients' failure to comply with medication prescriptions—albeit for a variety of reasons—costs the U.S. health system between $100 billion and $289 billion a year.

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1 comments on "Patient Non-Compliance a Pricey Problem"


M. Bennet Broner, PhD (9/25/2012 at 2:41 PM)
With non-compliance as high as 90% in some instances, not all individuals have troubled financial and or social lives. At play is the false belief that diseases are opportunistic and that patients are victims of this randomness rather than active participants in disease likelihood or course. Too, there is a belief that even if one does not care for himself, there is a treatment or medication that will solve the problem. Taken together, there is no patient "buy-in" to disease prevention or self-care.