Implementing testing can decrease costs and increase success rates.

By Colleen Travers

As many physicians know, prescribing a patient an antibiotic or other medication to treat their symptoms and condition is only part of the equation when it comes to treatment. The other half relies on the patient’s willingness to take and follow prescriptions as directed. Research has shown this piece of the puzzle is much trickier to manage, as an estimated 125,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are due to medication non-adherence, according to a study published in the American Heart Journal. That same study also found that out of the 3.2 billion medications that are prescribed in the U.S. each year, only half of those are taken as directed.

Aside from the patient’s condition not improving or worsening, this non-adherence is costing both insurance companies and the patient more money. The National Council on Patient Information and Education reported that not taking prescriptions as directed costs the U.S. health care system $100 billion annually, which includes $47 billion for drug-related hospitalizations. Failure to take prescription medication at all can cost the patient up to $2,000 per year in additional doctor’s visits and extra treatment or medication needed as a result. Prescription neglect is also a big part of why employer’s keep increasing insurance costs for covered employees, making them pay a larger percentage through co-insurance and deductibles.

The reason a patient doesn’t take antibiotics or other prescriptions as directed can vary, but with the help of urinalysis and pharmacogenetic testing physicians can start taking proactive measures to help patients before their condition gets more severe. By having a patient provide a urine sample – whether in the office or at-home before a follow-up visit – the physician is able to see if the prescription is being taken and can the monitor progress or any residual symptoms that are not resolving more closely. For patients who are not taking prescriptions at all, pharmacogenetic testing done in-office with a simple swab test can help a physician see if the patient has any resistance markers that are making the prescription ineffective, which may be why they stopped taking it in the first place. Pharmacogenetic testing can even be done before writing a prescription to reduce this chance of error and help the patient’s condition improve more quickly. Ensuring that the patient is taking the right kind of prescription will help both the insurance company and the patient save money in medication costs and reduce the number of follow-up visits needed.

For more information on how to use urinalysis and pharmacogenetic testing as part of your practice based on medical necessity and to help monitor prescription drug use visit ASAP Lab for a list of all its testing services.