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Improve patient outcomes: how to improve treatment adherence and health literacy

Improve patient outcomes: how to improve treatment adherence and health literacy

As a healthcare provider, you want to improve patient outcomes. Patient retention and adherence to treatment plans are key components in achieving this goal. 

This article will highlight actionable recommendations from the 2018 Patient Preference and Adherence study and the National Institute of Health's health literacy guidelines for improving patient outcomes. 


Patient retention leads to better patient outcomes


The Patient Preference and Adherence study found that 50% of patients with chronic health conditions failed to adhere to their treatment plans. 

While multiple factors led to problems with adherence, patients who reported concerns about medication side effects, lack of understanding about their condition or treatment, or forgetfulness were more likely to be non-adherent.

But it's possible to improve patient outcomes and treatment adherence through the following:

  1. Patient Education 
  2. Technology
  3. Communication
  4. Support
  5. Simplification
  6. Shared Decision Making

RelatedPatient Relationship Management – what you need to know.


Patient Education


This involves providing patients with information about their condition, treatment options, and how to manage their health. This can include written materials, videos, and in-person discussions with healthcare providers.

Patient education is vital in helping patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Provide easy-to-understand materials and resources that explain the patient's diagnosis, treatment options, and potential outcomes.
  • Utilize visual aids such as diagrams, models, and videos to supplement written materials and make it easier for patients to understand.
  • Encourage patients to ask questions and clarify information during consultations to ensure that they fully understand their diagnosis and treatment plan.




Communication between healthcare providers and patients is essential for building trust, understanding, and addressing concerns. This can include listening to patients' concerns, using plain language, and providing clear instructions.

Effective communication builds trust with patients and ensures their treatment plan is followed. Here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Use clear and simple language to avoid confusion or misunderstandings when communicating with patients.
  • Follow up to check patient progress, answer questions or concerns, and provide additional resources or support.
  • Communicate with patients who cannot visit your office in person through telehealth services, such as video consultations and HIPAA compliant email marketing.




Patients often need support beyond medical treatment to manage their health, such as emotional support, financial assistance, or help with transportation. Healthcare providers can connect patients with resources and support networks to improve their overall well-being.

Providing support can help patients stay motivated and on track with their treatment plan. Here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Connect patients with support groups or other resources, such as social workers or mental health professionals, to address any emotional or psychological barriers to treatment adherence.
  • Provide reminders, such as automated text or email reminders, to help patients remember to take their medication or attend their appointments.
  • Consider providing financial assistance or access to medication assistance programs for patients who may struggle to afford their treatment.




Complex treatment plans, medication regimens, and medical jargon can overwhelm patients and make it difficult to follow through with their treatment. Simplification involves breaking down information and instructions into smaller, manageable steps to help patients stay on track.

Simplifying treatment plans can make it easier for patients to follow through with their care. Here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Simplify medication regimens by minimizing the number of medications, consolidating doses, or using combination drugs.
  • Consider alternative treatment options, such as telemedicine or home health services, to reduce the burden of frequent office visits.
  • Use electronic medical records (EMRs) to streamline care and reduce the risk of miscommunication or medication errors.


Shared Decision-Making


This approach involves collaborating with patients to make informed decisions about their care based on their preferences, values, and goals. This can include providing information about treatment options, discussing the pros and cons of each option, and working with patients to choose the best course of action for their individual needs.

Involving patients in the decision-making process can improve treatment adherence and patient satisfaction. Here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Encourage patients to share their preferences and concerns regarding their treatment plan.
  • Provide patients with options for their treatment plan and help them weigh the pros and cons of each option.
  • Ensure that patients fully understand each treatment option's potential outcomes and risks before making a decision.




Technology can be valuable in improving patient outcomes and making healthcare more accessible. However, it's essential to ensure that patient data is transmitted securely and complies with HIPAA regulations. Here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Use secure messaging platforms like HIPAA compliant email to communicate with patients and transmit patient data.
  • Ensure that patients' mobile health (mHealth) apps are HIPAA-compliant and secure.
  • Educate patients on protecting their personal health information (PHI) and the risks associated with unsecured transmission of PHI.

In conclusion, improving patient retention and adherence to treatment plans is crucial for achieving positive outcomes. By utilizing these actionable recommendations, you can help your patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment options, communicate effectively, receive the necessary support, simplify their treatment plan, involve them in the decision-making process, and leverage technology to make healthcare more accessible.

Doing so will foster a stronger patient-provider relationship and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

RelatedSuccessful patient engagement in 2023


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