Can Patient Access To EHR Clinical Notes Improve Medication Adherence

EHR Clinical Notes

Medication adherence is an important goal of patient care. Nonadherence to medications is associated with adverse outcomes and higher health care costs. Outsourcing medical transcription can ensure accurate medication lists in electronic health records (EHRs) about the drugs the patient is prescribed and their dosages. However, medications will work only if the patient takes them.

Medication nonadherence is when patients skip their doses or fail to take them at the prescribed times. This can reduce and can even completely destroy the effectiveness of the prescription. Reports say that medication nonadherence as the US population ages and patients take more medications to treat multiple chronic conditions. Physicians and healthcare professionals should strive to implement strategies to improve patient medication compliance.

According to a study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in August 2021, patient access to EHR clinical notes can improve medication adherence, especially for patients with chronic conditions. Previous research has shown that older patients are less likely to be offered information related to patient portals. However, this study suggests that these patients and their care partners could benefit significantly by accessing these notes.

Medication Nonadherence – Reasons and Consequences

Medication nonadherence costs us a half-trillion dollars per year and 16% of U.S. healthcare spending goes toward unnecessary costs associated with patients not taking their medications, according to a report. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the problem costs over $100 billion annually while accounting for approximately 125,000 deaths each year. The WHO notes that improved medication adherence can have a more direct impact on patient outcomes than improvements to the specific treatments they are undertaking.

What are the factors contributing to medical non-adherence? The WHO has categorized the reasons for medication nonadherence in 5 broad groups: patient, condition, therapy, socioeconomic, and health system–related factors. The American Medical Association elaborates on these reasons as to why patients don’t take their prescribed medications:

  • Fear of potential side effects and side effects experienced with previous medications.
  • High costs of medications.
  • Not understanding the importance of taking the medicine.
  • Multiple prescriptions for various conditions.
  • Not experiencing symptoms can cause patients to discontinue a prescribed medication.
  • Mistrust or interpreting the physician’s motives for prescribing a drug as commercial.
  • Concerns about becoming dependent on the medication.

What Are The Consequences Of Medication Nonadherence?

One main effect is increase in symptoms, complications, and comorbid diseases. These issues will lead to worsening of the condition and need for prolonged hospitalization. The most severe consequences of non-adherence are disease progression, adverse effects, and death. Medication non-adherence leads to higher health care costs and unnecessary healthcare spending amounting to billions of dollars each year.

The AMA stresses the importance of understanding why patients don’t take their medications. This will help physicians and other health professionals to identify and improve patients’ adherence to their medications. According to recent research, access to EHR clinical notes can improve medication adherence in patients with multiple chronic conditions.

Study Links Medication Compliance to Patient Access to EHR Notes

Studies have suggested that when patients read their visit notes, it can improve medication adherence.  The study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is based on a cross-sectional country-wide survey of patient portal users over age 65.

The study found that EHR access by older patients with chronic conditions may support greater patient engagement and medication adherence. Here are key points that emerged from the study as summarized from an article published by EHR Intelligence:

  • Older patients value access to their personal health information, including clinical notes.
  • In the year before the survey, all the participants had read at least one clinical note, and most had read two or more clinical notes.
  • Patients with two or more chronic conditions were more likely to report that EHR clinical notes access helped them stay engaged in their care, remember their care plan, and experience better control over their medications, which led to greater medication adherence.
  • Very few patients reported confusion about their health or medications due to reading their EHR clinical notes.

In this survey, respondents had education levels beyond high school and had fairly high levels of digital literacy. However, the researchers noted that several previous surveys suggest that, compared to other patients, reading clinical notes increased engagement and trust in nonwhite, less educated, older patients, or those whose preferred language is not English.

The researchers recommend that health systems should aim to ensure that all older patients have access to appropriate health information in a format that is personalized to meet their needs. This will improve patient engagement for people of all literacy levels.

“Healthcare organizations should work to maximize patient’s engagement with their health information both through the patient portal and through other methods to ensure that patients and the healthcare systems reap the full benefit of the increased transparency of medical records,” the researchers wrote.

Medical Transcription Services for Accurate and Timely EHR Clinical Notes

Accurate and timely charting is crucial when it comes to optimal utilization of EHRs. In fields like cardiology, for instance, the prescription of indicated cardiovascular medication to patients has improved vastly, and the next step is to improve adherence to prescribed medication, according to an article published by the American Heart Association (AHA). Providers working to implement interventions to enhance medication adherence can benefit greatly from cardiology transcription services. A competent medical transcription service organization can help physicians maintain precise, concise and clear clinical notes with an up-to-date medication list. With the right support, healthcare providers can optimize medication compliance that minimizes adverse outcomes, reduces costs, and eventually lead to improved patient outcomes.