5 Ways to Improve Treatment Plan Compliance

Patient compliance is an important part of any therapeutic relationship and understanding how to improve the chance that patients follow through on your recommendations can be an easy way to improve patient outcomes.

A recent study by Laugesen, Hassanein and Yuan outlined 5 main reasons that patients aren’t compliant with recommendations from their practitioners.

    1. Principal Agent Theory
      • The power imbalance between a practitioner and a patient can be difficult to surmount.
      • Patients often don’t trust that practitioners have their best interests at heart, even after they have seen the practitioner for a visit.
    2. Internet health information quantity and difficulty assessing quality
      • The availability and ease of understanding  online health information has made it extremely common that patients have some base knowledge about their health condition. Occasionally, patients can believe that the information they know was found from a source of higher quality than what their practitioner is providing them.
    3. Poor practitioner communication skills and confidence
      • Poor communication skills and lack of practitioner confidence can be significant barriers to compliance.
    4. Poor patient-practitioner concordance
      • If a practitioner and patient don’t agree about a diagnosis or a treatment plan, there may be reduced compliance compared to a practitioner-patient relationship that has higher concordance.
    5. Perceived information asymmetry between patient and practitioner
      • If a patient feels that they have more relevant/important information than their practitioner, this limits the likelihood that a patient will follow through on the practitioner’s recommendations.

We’ve built some suggestions to help you improve compliance in your practice:

#1 Even if you share the best information for the patient’s needs, poorly framed delivery or difficulty following through on that information can lead to decreased compliance.

The next time a patient doesn’t follow through on the recommendations made in a visit, reflect on your delivery of the health information.

  • Could you have shared more or less information?
  • Was your message clear?
  • Did you include actionable steps?
  • Could you have reduced perceived friction from the patient as you were delivering the plan?

For my own delivery skills, I’ve personally benefited from working with Toastmasters. There are many other programs/courses similar to this that can help you improve your public speaking and information delivery skills.

#2 Practice empathy with your patients and ensure they feel heard during visits.

It is especially important in integrative medicine to practice in a more patient-centred fashion because that’s what the patient is expecting. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can better understand their concerns and healthcare needs.

#3 Validate a patient’s interest and research in their health concerns, while being clear and honest with them when the information they provide is not suited for their situation.

Avoid discarding their interest or their knowledge entirely, as this may result in a patient feeling  unheard and choosing not to be compliant with your recommendations.

#4 Monitor compliance during visits.

Tell patients that you’ll check in with them about their compliance at future visits. By providing accountability during visits, patients will have additional incentive to keep to the plan that has been set in place.

This is another reason to use prescriptions on Fullscript as opposed to sending someone to the store to get their supplements. You’ll get better compliance by sending a direct prescription with refill reminders to the patient, plus you’re always able to check whether a prescription on Fullscript has been shipped and sent to the patient.

Using text message prescriptions alongside email prescriptions also increases compliance for patients on Fullscript.

By using a patient-centred, empathetic approach, listening carefully to your patients’ needs, and creating personalized prescriptions, you will increase compliance and subsequent outcomes with your patients.


  1. Laugesen, J., Hassanein, K., & Yuan, Y. (2015). The Impact of Internet Health Information on Patient Compliance: A Research Model and an Empirical Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(6). https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.4333