Health Union Survey Shows Inverse Relationship Between Treatment Plan Discussion Topics, Adherence Challenges

While respondents considered cost and access to be key challenges to staying on treatments, those issues were less frequently discussed with HCPs at the outset

Published November 19th, 2021 | 4 Minute Read

PHILADELPHIANovember 18, 2021 — A new Health Union survey reveals that the top challenges to staying on treatments that patients face don’t match up with the most prevalent topics of discussion they have with their healthcare professionals when beginning treatment. The findings of the Retention, Adherence & Compliance Survey uncover potential opportunities for healthcare companies and providers to close gaps between what is discussed and the challenges patients face in terms of treatment adherence and compliance.

The survey of nearly 2,000 respondents living with a chronic health condition showed that the three most prevalent challenges to adherence relate to cost and access to treatment. With the highest percentage, 27% of respondents said they viewed cost as a challenge to staying on their medication as prescribed or instructed. Additionally, 22% viewed insurance coverage as a challenge, while one in five identified availability of financial assistance or copay programs.

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Following these access concerns were adherence challenges related to the impact and effectiveness of treatments, with 17% feeling challenged by side effects, 14% by long-term safety, 13% by treatment effectiveness and 12% by how quickly the treatment would start working.

At the bottom of the list of challenges were those related to dosing and logistics. Roughly 5% of respondents considered how a medication is taken, how often it is taken and the convenience of taking it to be challenges to staying on a treatment as prescribed or instructed.

However, when it comes to the topics HCPs and patients discuss at the beginning of treatment plans, dosing and logistics issues appear to be among the most prominent while conversations about cost and access trail far behind. The top topic of discussion with HCPs, identified by seven in 10 respondents, was how often the treatment is taken. Beyond that, six in 10 respondents discussed with their HCPs why they needed the treatment, and 58% discussed how the treatment is taken.

Roughly half of respondents had discussions at the beginning of their current treatment plans about potential side effects, the importance of staying on a treatment, how the treatment works and how quickly the treatment should start working.

Among the listed topics, cost, insurance coverage and financial assistance don’t even fall within the top 10 topics of discussion that patients have with their HCPs. Representing the 11th most common patient-HCP discussion, 29% of respondents said cost or insurance coverage had come up when beginning their current treatment plan. A smaller number of respondents – 20% – said availability of a patient support program was discussed.

“It is clear that HCPs do an excellent job addressing necessary concerns about why, how and how often patients should be taking needed medications and treatments,” said Olivier Chateau, Health Union’s co-founder and CEO. “It is likely these conversations have mitigated certain challenges to adherence and compliance. However, this survey data also shows that there needs to be a more concerted effort – from both HCPs and healthcare companies generally – around discussing cost and financial access to treatments.”

Health Union’s Retention, Adherence & Compliance survey, which fielded from Aug. 19 to Sept. 30, 2021, included responses from 1,945 people living with a chronic health condition who were currently using at least one medication – either prescription or over-the-counter.

About Health Union

Health Union, with the recent acquisition of WEGO Health, maintains the largest team of experts, patient advocates and healthcare leaders dedicated to social health. The company encourages social interactions that evolve into valuable online health conversations, helping people with chronic conditions find the information, connection, and validation they seek. Health Union does this by creating condition-specific online communities – publishing original, daily content and continuously cultivating social conversation – to support, educate and connect millions of people with challenging, chronic health concerns. Health Union’s growing portfolio of condition-specific communities includes 38 online health communities, including LungCancer.net, ParkinsonsDisease.net, MultipleSclerosis.net and Migraine.com.

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