Some Say Tomato; Some Say Tomato

posted by Veronica Brattstrom on Friday, December 22, 2017


The word “adherence” is defined as steady devotion or support on This implies a caring relationship and a partnership. The term “compliance,” according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as yielding to a demand.

Which term do you think your patients would prefer to hear, and which term better conveys the type of relationship you want to have with your patients?

Patient adherence remains a struggle in healthcare. Many reports say the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. is closely associated with patients who have more than one chronic condition. Yet these patients, those who need medical intervention most, don’t keep their follow-up appointments, obtain their refills, take their medications as prescribed or make changes to their lifestyle. Why not?

Patients fail to follow your advice for various reasons, including: not understanding the treatment, lack of time and/or interest, insurance limitations, and religious beliefs. Knowing the reason patients fail to adhere to a plan is more than half the battle.

We know lack of adherence to a medical plan poses a threat to your patient’s health and that it may increase the risks of complications. But, do your patients fully understand what can happen?

Avoid allegations of inadequate teaching, inadequate monitoring or inappropriate treatment by thoroughly documenting the situation.

Document the following as it relates to nonadherence:

  1. Discussion with the patient
  2. Patient’s stated reason(s) for nonadherence
  3. Education you provided about the treatment plan
  4. Possible consequences of nonadherence
  5. Patient educational materials provided
  6. Treatment plan changes made together to help improve adherence
  7. Encouragement provided to support the agreed upon treatment plan

Include the patient in the plan of care, encourage participation in care decisions and emphasize the patient’s role in achieving an optimal outcome. Partnership and support are key to your patient’s success, an optimal outcome and, last but not least, adhering to the treatment plan.

As a policyholder, if you have questions about patient nonadherance, call PSIC’s Claims Advice Hotline at 800-640-6504.

Blog Author

Veronica Brattstrom

Senior Risk Management Consultant

Veronica has provided risk management consulting services to healthcare professionals for more th...

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