Patient Adherence and Recovery

Patient adherence is imperative for improvement and recovery.

Have you ever returned home from a medical visit and had questions about your next steps? Oftentimes, a medical visit is filled with new information, feelings of overwhelm, and an increase in anxiety. We can miss information, misunderstand instructions, or confuse what was said with something we thought we already knew. Not following through correctly, or not demonstrating ‘adherence’ with self care instructions can lead to many negative outcomes. Slower recovery, medication problems, injury, and even re hospitalization and death can occur. People struggling with medical instruction adherence is not uncommon (PubMed 2002). Your positive recovery depends largely upon you following through with your health care team’s recommended post event instructions.

Patient adherence is important for outcomes and reimbursement.

“Non-adherence” to medical instructions, whether intentional or not, can cause worsening of symptoms, delay in progress, or even new medical problems. Extra visits to the physician, being re hospitalized, extending rehabilitation, and additional surgeries after a fall are all costly events I have seen occur due to a client (and family members) not following through with the instructions they were given. This cost places increased financial burden to the medical system. However, it also places time, stress, and financial burden to the patients and families as well. Importantly, adhering to health instructions for medication, exercise, activity modification, self care, pacing, and proper use of equipment, are many of the actions which can contribute to a less costly and smoother recovery, which is better for everyone involved:).

Empowering your clients and family with tools for good patient adherence is beneficial for them and for you.

An important part of patient adherence is understanding and remembering the instructions. The majority of patients I have worked with have wanted to do the right next step. Many times they were confused, misplaced information, or did not have a system in place to assist with the instructions. Thus, information that caregivers communicate needs to be clear and concise. As well, a person’s ability to listen or read, understand, and recall should be considered when issuing handouts. We can use words, pictures, charts, or lists to communicate effectively with others. It is imperative to provide understandable verbal and written instructions for clients to utilize during the recovery process.

If you are receiving care and do not get written instructions, ask for them!

Feeling heard and respected improves patient adherence and recovery.

It is also important to establish a positive, respectful relationship with a client. Trust is actually a factor in patient adherence! We should endeavor to understand the context and goals of the person we are working with to ensure our instructions are appropriate. Treating a person with kindness, compassion, and empathy, is not only important, but doing so will often improve their response (Martin, Williams, 2005. As a clinician my goal has been to help my patient or client feel cared for and empowered. Likewise, I try to present them with as many choices in the process as is appropriate, and enable them to guide their own care. I have frequently utilized The Teachback Technique to ensure comprehension of instructions. (Have your client or loved one “tell you back” what the clinician instructed them, or what you as the caregiver told them, but in their own words.) Surprisingly, this simple technique gives you an idea of what they understood and how much they remember. Additionally, it can help identify misunderstandings that could potentially become problematic.

Organization and clear documentation of health instructions is vital for patient adherence, and improves recovery.

Empowering your clients with tools for good patient adherence is beneficial for them and for you. For instance, proper font and type size can influence understanding. Sloppy notes and multiple forms can be confusing and lead to mistakes. Use senior focused, organized health care handouts for improved followthrough and outcomes. The primary reason I developed the CHT resources and Etsy shop were to share what I had written for my patients. Hopefully, other “worn-out-but-wanting-to-make-a-difference” clinicians and family members can benefit from them! Many of the handouts I created were made for patients I worked with that were struggling to follow instructions. They are inexpensive, because my main concern is to help caregivers and seniors. 🙂

Check out CHT senior focused health handouts out on the blog for individual packets

Or, check out over 20 different senior care health and wellness packets also available on Etsy!

Other posts you may find helpful:

10 tips to be an Organized Caregiver

Avoiding Hospital Readmission

Caring Caregiver Communication

What other information or tips would you give for improved patient adherence and recovery? I would love to hear from you! Subscribe to my blog for weekly tips, information and insight into senior care and senior health, and receive a few printable FREEBIES!

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