Excellus BCBS Shares Upstate NY Medication Adherence Survey Findings

Four of 10 adults with chronic conditions report non-adherence to prescriptions, two of 10 not compliant with antibiotics

ROCHESTER – About four out of every 10 upstate New York adults facing chronic conditions report that they don't always take their medications as prescribed, according to a comprehensive medication adherence survey commissioned by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and released today.

"This comprehensive self-reported adherence survey addresses a topic that's vital to the health of millions of people facing chronic conditions," said Mona Chitre, Pharm.D., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield vice president of Pharmacy Management and Chief Pharmacy Officer. "When medications are taken as directed, health outcomes are improved, chronic conditions are managed, health care dollars are used efficiently, and lives are saved."

"Our survey, using an independent firm, also explored the related vital topic of adherence to prescribed antibiotics," Chitre added. "Here, we found that two out of 10 adults are self-reporting non-adherence, a measure that establishes a level of danger to society because antibiotic resistant bacteria can develop as a direct result of patients who don't complete the full course of treatment as prescribed."

Key Findings:

Adults with chronic conditions

  • Of those taking medication for a chronic condition within the past three months, 58 percent took their medication as directed, 24 percent missed one dose of medication, 13 percent missed more than one dose, and 11 percent took the medication late.
  • Of those with a chronic condition that were non-adherent, 17 percent reported that symptoms of the conditions returned.
  • Of those with a chronic condition, 23 percent said they rely on a spouse or partner to make sure that they take their medication as prescribed.

Adults prescribed antibiotics

  • Of those prescribed an antibiotic, 21 percent missed a dose or stopped taking the medication; and of that group, 36 percent missed two doses and 22 percent missed three or more doses.
  • Of those who were non-adherent in taking their antibiotics, 15 percent reported that their symptoms returned.
  • Of those taking an antibiotic, 16 percent reported relying on a spouse or partner for reminders.

Reason for non-adherence

  • Consistent with national studies, forgetting/not having pill with me was the primary reason for medication non-adherence for those on an antibiotic or a medication for a chronic condition.

The survey focused on adults taking medication for five common chronic conditions; asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression; as well as adults who had been prescribed an antibiotic medication within the past six months. Taking antibiotics as prescribed is crucial to ensure that antibiotic resistant bacteria do not develop.

"Hundreds of thousands of upstate New Yorkers who have the conditions we reviewed are not getting the real benefit of their medicines, and there are many other medical conditions we didn't evaluate, so the numbers are understated," Chitre said. "To improve their health, patients who have medical conditions should take their medicines as directed by their physicians. Doing so will also help them avoid hospitalizations and other complications."

Regional Variations:

In addition to the general findings, the survey also revealed several regional differences.

For example:

  • Those in the Rochester region are more likely to have missed a dose/stopped taking medications within the past day and past week than those in the Central NY-Southern Tier region;
  • Those in the Central New York-Southern Tier region are more likely to talk to their doctor about lower cost options than those in the Western New York region;
  • Those in the Western New York Region are less likely to cite cost as a reason for non-adherence compared to those in the Utica region; and
  • Those in the Utica region are more likely to have been prescribed an antibiotic in the past 6 months than those in the Rochester region.

A summary report of the survey report, as well as past fact sheets about Medication Adherence in upstate New York, can be found at excellusbcbs.com/factsheets.

About Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to about 1.6 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools. To learn more, visit excellusbcbs.com.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 35 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube and follow us on Twitter.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.