PhRMA Foundation Wants Everyone to Follow Doctors’ Orders. Here’s Why.

Ok, fess up: who listens patiently to the laundry list of doctor’s office aftercare recommendations and thinks, quietly, Pfffff! Who chucks the medication fine print in the trash can as soon as you return home? Who even reads the dosage descriptions, the contraindications, the side-effects… ain’t nobody got time for that, right?

Well, not exactly. It turns out that following doctors’ recommendations to a T can dramatically affect patient outcome. Taking the antibiotics for the full two weeks, even though symptoms disappeared after four days—who’s going to do that? And how can medical professionals make the case to busy people who just want to recover and get on with their lives that sticking to the rules is important?

It’s officially called the adherence gap: when patients go off the rails, taking or not taking their prescribed meds as their doctors recommended. It costs our health care system a bundle each year, so the PhRMA Foundation is seeking proposals specifically for its Adherence Improvement Research Starter Grant Program. One year grants of up to $50,000 will be available. The grants are designed to encourage younger researchers beginning independent research careers to study the area of adherence improvement.

To us, this sounds like part medical science, part psychology. How do we build loyalty and obedience in patients? How do we make doctors’ orders sound unimpeachable and totally not optional? How do we impress upon patients the importance of following orders, not just for their sake but for the sake of the entire American health care system? All relevant questions the PhRMA Foundation hopes to answer with the research it funds. The foundation will focus specifically on work tackling conditions that afflict those receiving Medicare and Medicaid: things like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, hypertension, dementia, and cancer.

Individuals holding the academic rank of instructor, assistant professor, or investigator at the doctoral level by January 2015 are eligible to apply. The program is not intended for individuals in postdoctoral training programs.

For complete program guidelines, a program brochure, and application instructions, visit the PhRMA Foundation website.