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How to Improve Medication Adherence and Keep DIR Fees to a Minimum

Every year, the US healthcare system pays between $100 and $300 million when it comes to annual costs of medication non-adherence. Adherence, the act of patients sticking with their prescriptions and taking the dosages correctly, is not only beneficial to pharmacies - it’s highly necessary as well.


A high level of adherence boosts a pharmacy’s performance, lowers DIR fees, and makes health providers more apt to partner with them. A good rate of adherence means that your pharmacy is doing something right.


In order to evaluate health plans for service quality, patient care, and adherence, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services implemented the Five-Star Rating system. The types of evaluated adherences are:


● Adherence for (non-insulin) diabetes medications

● Adherence for hypertension patients

● Adherence for cholesterol medications


A pharmacy’s performance in this rating system affects a plan providers’ ratings - if a pharmacy prioritizes adherence, they’re more likely to be added to health plan networks because those stats speak to their performance. And if your pharmacy is added to more health plan networks, your patient base will inevitably increase.


If your pharmacy has a high rate of adherent patients, you’re also more likely to earn discounted DIR fees. In recent times with COVID and the recession, this is a notable benefit.


When it comes to improving your performance and keeping DIR fees low, we’re here to help. Here are six ways you can help your pharmacy succeed:


1. Offer Digital Refills


These days, it’s all about convenience. Digital refills can turn an arduous process like heading out to the pharmacy to refill in person, or waiting forever on the phone, into something that happens in just a few clicks. You can also encourage the use of digital refills by adding a ‘refill request’ option to your website.


2. Refill Reminders


Adherence depends on patients taking their medications as frequently as they should, and at the right times. Refills are easy to forget, and if a patient doesn’t get their prescription refilled, they obviously won’t take their medication. This is why refill reminders are a must.


Reminders can be sent in a variety of methods, depending on a patient’s preference - email, messaging, automated calls. Tailoring the method to a specific patient doesn’t only make their life easier, it also shows them that you care.


3. Secure 2-Way Messaging


Increasing communication is a great way to increase adherence. By providing a secure place for your patients to get in touch with you, they can ask questions and address concerns about their medications without even having to leave their home.


4. Home Delivery


COVID let us know just how effective and useful home delivery could be, and even as the pandemic winds down to a less-dangerous phase, many people would like home delivery to remain common. It doesn’t just have to be restaurants - your pharmacy can utilize it, too. By providing home delivery, you’re bringing peace of mind to patients in your community who have a hard time traveling - like the elderly or immunocompromised.


5. Specialty Services


Adding Medication Therapy Management (MTM) to the list of services that your pharmacy offers help boost communication between you and your patients. Meeting regularly holds a patient accountable to taking their medication as it’s prescribed. Another program that can help is Medication Synchronization - this can help reduce side effects and, therefore, increase adherence and a patient’s desire to keep taking their prescriptions.


6. Educational Materials


Many patients don’t adhere to their medications simply because they don’t understand their importance. Patient education/wellness classes can change that by teaching your patients the significance of their conditions and the prescriptions they’re taking to treat/cope with it. By educating the public, you’re providing information on life-altering conditions that can severely impact a patient’s life. This keeps your patients healthy while simultaneously strengthening your relationship with the community as a whole.



Medication adherence is important for your pharmacy, and it’s also important for your community. Boost your performance and you’ll see success headed your way in more areas than just one.


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