Let’s establish something that seems obvious: medication adherence improves health.
A patient is said to be “adherent” to a medication when they follow their prescribed therapy as recommended by their healthcare provider.
adherence = taking the correct medication + taking the correct amount of medication + administering it correctly and at the correct time + continuing to take it for the full course of therapy
While there are many obstacles to adherence, one of the biggest obstacles is prescription abandonment. Patients who don’t have their medication in hand aren’t likely to start their therapy. That causes major problems, such as:
- More intense relapses of disease
- Increased risk of dependence on medication
- Increased risk of withdrawal from medication
- Increased risk of treatment-resistant disease
- Increased risk of accidents
The direct cost of these nonadherence-related relapses, dependence, withdrawal, resistant disease, and accidents is immense. The following are much more expensive than a prescription, and much more traumatic to patients:
- Avoidable hospitalization
- Increased use of doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers
- Increased use of nursing homes, hospice, and dialysis centers
- Avoidable pharmacy costs related to therapy intensification
- Avoidable diagnostic testing
Nonadherence costs the American healthcare system over $100 billion every year – perhaps as much as $289 billion. In addition to the direct costs of nonadherence, poor health causes a chain reaction throughout communities, impacting productivity and general well-being.
This isn’t a new revelation, of course. To reduce abandonment and improve adherence, some healthcare insurance payers encourage their members to sign up for mail-order pharmacies, which send patients their medications every month. Mail-order does help: one Kaiser Permanente study demonstrated that stroke patients who received their medications from a mail-order pharmacy were adherent about 74% of the time, whereas patients using a local pharmacy were only adherent about 47% of the time. That’s a significant difference.
But mail-order can’t meet every patient’s needs. Prescription delivery can go further in helping patients access their medications, improving the patient experience, and reducing healthcare costs.
Let’s consider the three elements that patients look for in a prescription delivery service.
Perception of control
By not offering patients the chance to choose when their prescription will be delivered or express their treatment preferences, mail-order can cause patients to feel “less empowered in relation to treatment decisions” and have “negative attitudes towards… therapy and reported lower rates of adherence.” For example, patients don’t react positively when mail-order pharmacies send prescriptions that they no longer need. While one mistaken fill of a cheap generic may not seem like a big problem, it is highly frustrating to patients. Besides, if we multiply those mistaken fills across thousands of members, the cost of wasted inventory alone could be staggering.
With same-day or on-demand delivery, patients get more transparency. They can usually choose when and where they’ll receive their prescriptions and have the choice to cancel orders, use prescription discount cards, and enjoy services like medication synchronization or adherence packaging.
Access to a pharmacist
A recent survey found that 85% of respondents preferred getting prescription drugs from a local pharmacy instead of a mail-order service because they wanted the option to talk to the pharmacist they know and trust. Same-day or on-demand delivery can boost adherence while allowing patients to continue communicating with their local pharmacist.
Shipping via ground carriers is the only available service level for mail-order pharmacies. As we saw from late 2020 and into 2021, ground shipping can be dangerously slow. This may be acceptable for refills of maintenance medications, but shipping is not ideal for new drug starts or urgent refills. Patients may end up using mail-order for some of their prescriptions but attempt to pick up others in person, negating the usefulness of mail-order.
Same-day or on-demand delivery cuts down the time to therapy, which is particularly essential for patients who have recently been hospitalized or have had surgery. If a recently-discharged patient doesn’t get their discharge meds at the hospital, they might go straight home instead of stopping at the pharmacy. In many cases, failing to start discharge medications results in rehospitalizations that cause undue suffering and are expensive for patients and insurance payers.
ScriptDrop bridges the gaps
Complement mail-order prescriptions with same-day or on-demand delivery. Ensure improved access, affordability, and patient experience with ScriptDrop.
ScriptDrop has unmatched delivery coverage. While some prescription delivery services tout delivery in all 50 states, they’re referring to delivery by the USPS or other ground carriers. Payers with mail-order pharmacies already have that.
When we say we deliver in all 50 states, we mean it. We can reach patients in rural areas, in dense cities, or anywhere in between. Trust us: we were founded in “flyover country.” We aren’t restricted to a handful of large urban areas on the East or West coast.
By improving access to prescriptions, ScriptDrop boosts your patients’ medication adherence. Adherence helps improve healthcare outcomes, and healthier patients are less likely to need extensive hospitalization or increasingly expensive and complex medication regimens.
Pairing existing mail-order pharmacy programs with same-day or on-demand delivery can make a huge difference to patients. Acutely ill, homebound, or just-discharged patients can skip the pharmacy line and get their urgently-needed medications at home. Same-day and on-demand can streamline the experience for telehealth patients, too.