Most Americans aren’t healthy—and they aren’t getting any better not following the advice of their primary care doctors.
According to a TeleVox Healthy World Report, “A Fragile Nation in Poor Health,” three out of four Americans (83 percent) admit they don’t follow treatment plans they’ve been given by their doctor exactly as prescribed. And health care professionals aren’t quite as forgiving. They say 95 percent of patients fail to comply with treatment plans as prescribed.
According to the National Consumers League, nearly three in four Americans don’t follow doctor’s orders for taking prescription drugs, a problem associated with 125,000 patient deaths each year. One in three patients never even fills the prescription. Others forget to pick up their drugs from the pharmacy, skip doses, take their pills at the wrong time or take an incorrect dose.
And most patients find it even more difficult when it comes to suggestions about changing their lifestyle to improve overall health and quality of life.
What’s the reason? Patients have plenty: They don’t feel they have adequate information about their condition or medication; they experience side effects from the medication which causes more symptoms than the illness; they start to feel better and assume they don’t need any more treatment or they think the medicine is simply too expensive.
And though the survey reveals most health care professionals believe with proper motivation and coaching, the majority of patients will take necessary steps to do what’s required to become healthy, doctors aren’t giving their patients enough support.
Half of health care professionals believe their job begins and ends with assessing the patient’s current state of health, prescribing and explaining treatment plans, and monitoring patient progress during regular office visits. Only one in four practitioners believe it’s their job to keep patients on track with their treatment programs between office visits by sending them ongoing reminders and alerts to take medication, check blood sugars, eat right and exercise.
And more than half of health care practices say they don’t communicate with patients between visits to provide care. They don’t currently send patients reminders to adhere to treatment plans, take medication as prescribed, check blood sugar levels or follow prescribed exercise routines, though most patients say they would like more encouragement from their doctor.
“For the most part, patients are expected to ‘go it alone,’” report authors wrote. “Sure they go to the doctor who takes a bit of time to review the patient’s current state of health and provide a brief consultation, which typically leads to a prescription for medication and some advice about adopting a healthier lifestyle. The patient then goes to the pharmacy to fill the prescription and that’s where the physician’s support typically ends—at the very point treatment begins. That’s the gaping hole in the system.”