Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients who are increasingly non-adherent to medication incur a threefold increase in hospital costs compared to adherent patients, a new study shows.
The study, “Longitudinal Patterns of Medication Nonadherence and Associated Health Care Costs,” was published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Not only has non-adherence to medication been correlated with poor outcomes in IBD patients, but it also has been associated with increased cost of care across other diseases. In the United States alone, the annual cost associated with childhood IBD due to hospitalizations is more than $150 million. Combined with other healthcare expenditures, pediatric IBD surpasses more than $450 million in costs annually.
In order to determine whether non-adherence leads to increased costs for patients with pediatric IBD, researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center studied 99 patients with IBD in a two-year study. They determined adherence by analyzing refill data obtained from pharmacies. Furthermore, they analyzed medical charts to establish disease severity of each patient and determined hospital-associated costs by obtaining records from the hospital’s accounting database.
Results from this study show that, after adjusting for disease severity, patients who are increasingly non-adherent to their medication have healthcare cost three times more than patients who are consistently adherent, or who are decreasingly non-adherent.
Interestingly, patients who were non-adherent at first, but later became more adherent, had similar costs to patients who were always adherent, which indicates that it is possible to change one’s behavior and have a beneficial effect on healthcare costs even if some time has passed.
So, the researchers concluded, strategies aimed at helping patients modify their behavior regarding adherence to medication can be a good tactic to save on healthcare costs, as well as stopping disease progression.
“This study has important ramifications for health care reform and how practitioners approach adherence assessment and intervention in routine care,” Kevin Hommel, PhD, said in a press release. Hommel is director of the Center for Health Technology Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s lead author. “With sustained efforts to reduce non-adherence in chronic conditions, we may see concomitant reduction in health care costs.”