Employers vs Barriers: Medication Adherence


a woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera


Mary Beth Basu, CHC, RDN, LDN
Account Executive

Time: 2 min


So far we have talked about barriers to healthy eating, exercise, and access to care, and what employers and employee wellness personnel can do to make it easier for employees to make healthy choices. One topic employers often don’t feel as empowered to address is medication adherence. I’m excited to report I’ll be digging into member-reported barriers to adherence, and what employers can do to help!

Time-Related Barriers

One major reason individuals report not accessing care is due to lack of time. Approximately one-quarter of Pack Health members reported time as a barrier to accessing healthcare. Employers can help improve access through policy-related measures or environmental strategies. Offering a wellness day or flex time annually, in addition to sick time or PTO policies, allows members paid time off to complete preventive or routine care.

Another option is to physically bring care to the office. Mobile screening services come directly to your office or worksite or consider a near-site clinic option such as Access Health. Both options provide biometrics screenings, which include tests such as body mass index and blood pressure assessments. Prior to arrival, providing awareness to the team through email blasts or signage can help employees mark the day on their calendars.

A third possibility to access-related care barriers is implementing a digital coaching solution like Pack Health. Our digital health coaches deliver reminders for preventive care, assist with scheduling and preparing for appointments, and translate medical language to understandable terms. Digital options also remove the barrier of a physical location. Engagement is conducted over the phone or through other digital channels, such as email or text.

31% of members reported forgetting as a barrier to medication adherence

Obviously, you can’t remind your employees to take their medications – much less ask if there are medications they’re supposed to be taking, but there are a few things you can do:

  1. Offer inexpensive medicine bottle timers to employees as a give-away at health fairs or on a wellness table in the break room
  2. Address med adherence globally by posting information, hosting educational seminars during work hours, and sending company-wide emails recapping the information. 
  3. Encourage employees to use simple strategies to remember to take medications, such as a daily pill box or a smartphone alarm. 
  4. Share a list of smartphone apps for medication reminders

22% of members reported cost as a barrier to medication adherence

This is probably the thing your employees will appreciate the most, because when cost is a barrier to treatment, it can be a serious pain point. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help!

  1. Promote the use of generic medicines, and encourage employees to ask prescribers if new medications are listed on the insurance formulary. People who are included in decisions about the medications they are prescribed are more likely to adhere to their treatment plan, according to the American Medical Association
  2. Consider reducing or eliminating copays for chronic disease medications, such as prescriptions for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

27% of members reported side effects are a barrier to medication adherence

This is a tricky one, but you’re not entirely without ways to help. Two ideas are:

  1. Put together an internet article about the importance of talking to your doctor when experiencing side effects. Physicians can explain adverse effects and how side effects lessen with time in some cases, or change the medication regimen if necessary.
  2. Implement a coaching solution like Pack Health, which offers medication discounts, text message reminders, tips for managing side effects, and care escalation protocols that make sure members have key conversations with clinicians.

This is the final post in our series on member-reported barriers, and what employers can do to help. We hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you haven’t already, check out the other posts and learn more ways to become a champion for your employees health:

Employers Vs. Barriers to Care

Employers Vs. Barriers to Exercise

Employers Vs. Barriers to Healthy Eating