Cordant’s Data Uncovers the Hidden Challenges of Medication Management in Mental Health

DENVER (July 11, 2019) – Cordant Health Solutions™ (Cordant), today released internal data that document that integrating medication monitoring tools into a mental health practice is effective in both supporting patients’ ability to manage their medication and decreasing risk-taking behavior.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., or 43.8 million people, experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Patient failure to adhere to medication as prescribed is considered a global challenge in psychiatry, particularly in the management of conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar and depression disorders, resulting in harm to the patient’s mental and physical health.

“The stigma around mental illness is an enormous barrier for many, and embarrassment, fear and shame are cited as top reasons why individuals do not seek help,” said Sue Sommer, CEO and president of Cordant. “Despite proven pharmaceutical therapies, patients with these conditions often struggle to stay on their medications for a variety of reasons. It can be challenging for healthcare providers to have visibility into whether a patient is taking their medication as prescribed and often they have to rely on the patient’s self-reporting. Our laboratory data suggests that medication monitoring can help give healthcare providers the visibility they need to help their patients with adherence.”

Results from 2,394 Cordant drug tests from January through December 2018 confirm the issue of non-adherence in patients who had been prescribed antipsychotic medications.

“Cordant’s results showed that 66% of samples tested for patients prescribed antipsychotic medications had unexpected results, meaning that they did not match expectations based on the recommended treatment plan,” said Sommer. “One-third of these samples tested negative for prescribed antipsychotic medications, 23% tested positive for illicit drugs, and 19% tested positive for alcohol, which can render antipsychotics ineffective.”

The financial costs of unmanaged or poorly managed mental health disorders are also very real. Mental health disorders cause an estimated $193.2 billion in lost earnings in the U.S. annually, and a 2013 IMS Institute report found that lack of medication adherence for mental health disorders resulted in $105 billion in potentially avoidable costs.

“Many providers believe that their mental health patients are taking their medication as prescribed, but studies show that often isn’t the case.” said Sommer. “Patients are very apt to say, ‘Yes doctor, I am taking the medications you prescribed,’ when in reality they may have forgotten to pick up their prescription, or they do not like the side effects but do not want to disappoint their physician. Adding objective diagnostic data like medication monitoring to the clinician’s treatment protocol helps increase patient’s adherence to the medication and could help save lives.”

The National Council for Behavioral Health found that medication non-adherence accounts for 30%–50% of treatment failures.

Cordant’s internal data sets also show that routine testing can help improve a patient’s commitment to their medication regimen.

Of 792 mental health patients tested in 2018 and again in 2019, results revealed significantly improved adherence to prescribed medication regimens after the provider incorporated data-driven analytics and routine medication monitoring into clinic protocols.

Of the patients from this clinic who were considered high risk due to unexpected test results in 2018, 39% had an expected test result when retested in 2019, meaning that their results were currently in line with the medications they were prescribed. Of the patients who triggered high-risk protocols because they tested positive for an illicit drug in 2018, 29% did not when most recently tested in 2019.

“At Cordant, we’re focused on destigmatizing treatment for mental illness and substance use disorder and offering solutions to help clinicians have objective data so they can treat their patients more effectively. These conditions present very real challenges for both patient and provider, who are both better served in an environment of unbiased information and shared decision-making,” said Sommer.

Cordant currently has one of the largest mental health testing menus, with the ability to test for 62 mental health medications. Of these, 55 can be tested for using saliva.