As of 2020, around 210,000 children and adolescents under age 20 in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes, and cases are on the rise. Although type 1 diabetes is much more common in children, type 2 diabetes is also beginning to increase in young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the growing frequency of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes among children is a clinical and public health concern.
Not surprisingly, more healthcare organizations are looking for ways to improve the management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children—but certain medication adherence barriers make this challenging. Learn what those medication adherence barriers are and what your organization can do to overcome them:
Children with Diabetes: Common Medication Adherence Barriers
Anti-diabetic medication adherence is essential to manage the condition and mitigate the consequences of non-compliance. Improving medication adherence is certainly possible, but it requires an understanding of adherence barriers—or the reasons why non-adherence occurs in the first place.
- Lacking family involvement: When a child’s family members are not involved in or supportive of diabetes management, their adherence suffers.
- Limited health literacy: Limited education about what diabetes is and why medication is necessary for managing the condition can result in non-adherence.
- Social stigma at school: Children with diabetes (and other chronic conditions) often struggle with the social stigma associated with taking medication at school.
- Mental health challenges: Past research has established a link between stress, depression, and non-adherence in youth with diabetes.
- Fear of drug administration: A fear of injecting insulin or using an insulin pump can be a medication adherence barrier for patients with diabetes—especially children.
- Cost and access concerns: Socially vulnerable patients may struggle with cost and access concerns that prevent optimal adherence to prescription medications.
7 Ways to Improve Medication Adherence in Children with Diabetes
With the right approach, your organization can improve medication adherence in children. Here are seven steps you can take:
Enlist Family Support
Getting family members on board from day one is imperative to improve medication adherence in children with diabetes. Pharmacists and prescribing physicians should coordinate with parents and caretakers to ensure a clear understanding of what it means to be adherent and why it’s crucial for diabetic children.
Establish a Routine
Forgetfulness is one of the primary barriers to medication adherence across nearly every chronic condition. Family members can help children with diabetes establish a routine that involves properly taking their medication(s). For example, some children always take their medications around breakfast or lunch.
Educate on Diabetes
Because health literacy is a challenge related to medication non-adherence, education plays a crucial role in driving improvements. Clinicians should take steps to educate both family members and children with diabetes to ensure both parties understand what the condition is, how it impacts the body, why medication is necessary, and the potential consequences of non-adherence.
Simplify Drug Regimens
Drug regimens should be simplified as much as possible when treating children with diabetes. Once-daily doses are preferable because they are easier to remember and remove school—and, in many cases, the social stigma—from the equation. Although a simplified regimen is not possible in all cases, it’s still a factor worth considering.
Improve Patient Access
Addressing cost and access to anti-diabetic medications is just as important as patient education. If a family struggles to afford or access the medications a child with diabetes needs, options may be available to provide support. For example, financial assistance programs can offset the high cost of medications, whereas pharmacy deliveries offer a way to access prescriptions without reliable transportation.
Encourage Peer Support
To address the social stigma and reduce feelings of isolation and depression in children with diabetes, encourage peer support. Whether it’s a support group, online forum, or a diabetes-related event, children can benefit significantly from meeting diabetes patients in the same age group.
Intervene with Technology
Patient interventions are a great way to address non-adherence in children and adults alike. Healthcare artificial intelligence (AI) technology—like AllazoHealth’s AI Engine—can be used to deploy these interventions more efficiently and effectively.
Using a combination of machine learning and predictive analytics, AI determines the optimal intervention channel, content, timing, and frequency for each individual. It also determines which patients will benefit most from an intervention. As a result, adherence interventions are often more successful—and more affordable—for the pharmacies, health plans, and drug manufacturers deploying them.
Looking for more information on how healthcare AI is being used to improve adherence and close other medication-related gaps in care? Schedule a demo of AllazoHealth’s AI Engine to get a firsthand look at the technology and benefits to organizations like yours.
About the Author
Dr. Linda Schultz
Dr. Linda Schultz is a results-oriented Healthcare Pharmacy Executive who excels at leading transformational, top-notch, interdisciplinary healthcare teams to create and execute outcomes driven clinical operations and account management initiatives. Dynamic and knowledgeable in all healthcare business segments, most passionately within the complex Medicare, Duals and Medicaid markets, she is an accomplished, creative motivator and driver of innovative quality and cost of care pharmacy interventions. Dr. Schultz is currently VP, Customer Success at AllazoHealth, a cutting-edge, healthcare artificial intelligence company. Prior to her leadership role at Allazo, Linda founded and led RxHorizons, LLC., an international healthcare consulting group. Her expertise stems from over 25 years of experience within the Managed Care industry, with a focus on leading, strategizing, developing and implementing pharmacy benefit management activities within national PBMs and health plans.