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Patient Non-Compliance a Pricey Problem

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   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.

Karen Minich-Pourshadi is a Senior Editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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