Complicated drug regimens are often a challenge for people with complex health and social needs — including individuals with physical and behavioral health comorbidities, seniors, and those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. It is not uncommon for people with complex needs to take 20 or more medications daily, typically prescribed by multiple providers, and often with complicated dosing schedules and confusing instructions.

Outside of clinic walls, people are left to interpret and develop their own medication schedules with little to no ongoing support, which is where things get tricky, if not downright dangerous. In the U.S., 119,000 deaths are attributed to medication errors annually. The more complicated the medication regimen, the higher the probability of a patient not following it correctly, widening the gap for largely preventable adverse drug events to occur.

This Health Affairs blog post highlights how ThedaCare, a large nonprofit health care system in Wisconsin, is working to address medication complexity through the use of a medication risk score card to identify at-risk patients, and the deployment of community paramedics for in-home services. This work is part of the Community Management of Medication Complexity Innovation Lab, a national initiative led by the Center for Health Care Strategies with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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