Medication and Home Care

As a provider of non-medical home care [by definition in California, home health agencies do nursing, physical therapy, etc., while non-medical home care agencies focus on support of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)], Support For Home caregivers (Home Care Aides) face serious challenges providing service to many folks who, for one reason or another, have difficulty staying current with their medication schedules.

Non-medical home care companies and “private” caregivers cannot administer medication to clients.  When we are supporting clients who suffer from dementia or are physically incapable of taking their medications without serious help, those clients are in jeopardy.  Home health agencies cannot help, because the cost is simply prohibitive to have a nurse visit several times a day, seven days per week, to cover the problem.

But, it is a problem, and it has to be addressed.  An article in The New York Times, called “Keeping Score on How You Take Your Medicine,” talks about a new product / service from a credit score company, may help address the issue.

How serious is the problem?  The article points out it is huge:

Nearly three in four Americans do not follow doctor’s orders for taking prescription drugs, a problem that is associated with 125,000 patient deaths each year, according to the National Consumers League. One in three patients never even fills the prescription. Others forget to pick up their drugs from the pharmacy, skip doses, take their pills at the wrong time or take too much or too little.

That statistic deals with the general population.  When we focus on those who require help to safely live at home, the number skyrockets, unfortunately.

So, FICO, the credit score company, has developed a “Medication Adherence Score,” which uses an algorithm based on public data — age, home ownership, job status, gender, … — rather than on medical records.  The medical condition of the individual is a factor, however.

It is obviously very early days for the tool, and there is understandable skepticism about how well it will work (including some of my own), but my fingers are crossed.  Anything that will help the medical profession identify patients at risk — and thereby help non-medical home care practitioners deliver better support — is a very, very good thing.

Let’s keep an eye on this — and you keep an eye on your own Medication Adherence Score!  🙂

Best wishes, Bert


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