Posted on September 24, 2010

CAMBRIDGE, MA (September 24, 2010) – The New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) today called for a national strategy to examine the role care teams can have on improving patient adherence to prescription medicines. Given the shortage of primary care physicians and escalating health care costs, care teams may prove essential to better medication adherence but more research is needed on how to best deploy them in a wide variety of practice settings, according to a NEHI report.

Poor medication adherence exacts a heavy toll by resulting in unnecessary illnesses, disability and premature deaths, and costs as much as $290 billion a year in unnecessary health care spending. The NEHI report, “Medication Adherence and Care Teams: A Call for Demonstration Projects,” says adherence can be improved across broad populations with the coordinated implementation of multiple strategies instead of “rifle shot” interventions. Care teams, which can include both physician and non-physician care givers, are well suited to facilitate these adherence interventions because of the multiple people and skill sets involved at the point of care. 

“The use of care teams is a starting point for possible solutions to poor medication adherence,” said lead researcher Thomas E. Hubbard, a senior program director at NEHI, a national health care research and policy institute. “But we need a robust body of evidence that examines the impact they can have in a wide variety of practice settings.” 

The new health reform law provides a crucial foundation for using demonstration projects to test the potential care teams can have on improving poor adherence. The report suggests four key objectives for demonstration projects:

  • Test multi-component adherence strategies and not single-component interventions;

  • Overcome the limitation of prior studies and projects by having adequate sample sizes and rigorous performance measurements, and identifying barriers at an organizational, procedural and regulatory level;

  • Demonstrate adaptability to diverse care settings; and

  • Design projects to be integrated with critical elements of national health care reform.

“Poor medication adherence affects a variety of health care stakeholders,” said Valerie Fleishman, executive director of NEHI. “We are calling on them to collaborate and establish meaningful demonstration projects that show how to best use care teams to improve medication adherence.” 

“Medication Adherence and Care Teams: A Call for Demonstration Projects,” is available on the New England Healthcare Institute website:


About NEHI
The New England Healthcare Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming health care for the benefit of patients and their families. In partnership with members from all across the health care system, NEHI conducts evidence-based research and stimulates policy change to improve the quality and the value of health care. Together with this unparalleled network of committed health care leaders, NEHI brings an objective, collaborative and fresh voice to health policy. For more information, visit

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