Do you take your medications as prescribed? Do you take it at the right time, in the right way and frequency? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates non-adherence causes 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths per year in this country. Twenty five to 50 percent of patients being treated with statins (cholesterol lowering medications) who stop their therapy within one year have up to a 25 percent increased risk for dying.
Some staggering statistics:
- 20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy.
- Medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time.
- For patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases, after six months, the majority take less medication than prescribed or stop the medication altogether.
- Only 51 percent of patients taking medications for high blood pressure continue taking their medication during their long-term treatment.
Simply put, not taking your medicine as prescribed by a doctor or instructed by a pharmacist could lead to your disease getting worse, hospitalization, even death. Here are some tips to consider following for taking your medication as prescribed:
Knowing why you are taking a specific medication and learning its importance is one of the most effective ways to improve adherence. Once you know how to take your drug correctly and safely, ask follow-up questions about anything you don’t understand. Be sure to ask your medical team or pharmacist to help you become more familiar with your medication and learn about any side effects that can occur.
Keep track of your meds
In many cases, patients are taking medications at different times of day and frequency. Not to mention complicated names that are sometimes hard to pronounce. Add in the realities of your daily life make it difficult to remember what you are supposed to take and when you are supposed to take it. Instead of trying to remember everything, make a list of medicines (both over the counter and prescription. Include the name of the doctor who prescribed it, too. Then provide a copy of the list to your family and others on your healthcare team, so they all have access to the information. If you are unable to do this for yourself, have a family member do this for you.
Pick up your prescriptions on the same day each month
Our Sync My Meds program is an easy and convenient way to align your medications for pick up on the same day each month. Make fewer trips to the pharmacy and ensure you don’t run out of your medications. We’ll contact your physician when needed, fill the drugs you need, and have everything ready on the same day each month. If you have any new medications prescribed during the month, we will fill enough of it to sync that medication with the other meds on your sync date. When all of your prescriptions are ready, we’ll give you a call so you can come pick them up or take advantage of our free delivery.
Schedule your meds If your treatment regimen is complicated, setting up a calendar with reminders and notes can help you adhere to your medication. Whether on a paper calendar on your wall, or on a calendar app on your phone, include exact days and times on a visible calendar. Forgetting to take your medication is one of the most common causes of non-adherence. Setting reminders, and even alarms, can help you stay on track. Take notes of side effects and record any missed or skipped doses so you can keep your doctor informed.
Weekly and daily pill organizers are an effective way to keep track of your medications. Whether you need to take one pill a day, or multiple pills throughout the day, a pill organizer or our MedMinder packaging can help you stay organized. Some medications must be stored in the original container and be refrigerated, so be sure that what is put into a pill packet, should go in the pill packet.
Plan for travel
When traveling, be sure to bring enough of your medication, and bring more than you think you’ll need in case of travel delays. If you are flying, or even going by bus or train, keep your medications in a carry-on bag to avoid lost luggage and to have easy access as needed. Not to mention, temperatures inside the cargo hold could damage your medication.
Plan ahead for refills
Planning ahead is necessary to make sure you don’t lapse in taking your medication. If your prescription refill is running low, mark your calendar for when to call your doctor for a refill. Signing up for automatic refills through our pharmacy will also help ensure you always have your medication when necessary.
RxLocal is an easy-to-use app that allows our pharmacy customers to manage their entire family’s prescriptions, communicate with the pharmacy via secure messages, order refills, set medication reminders, and find pharmacy location information. Creating an account is easy. Just enter your last name and date of birth, along with any existing prescription number. Then, simply add all of your family members to your account for quick and easy access to all of their prescriptions. RxLocal is a free app for Android users. There is no charge to download or use the app.
Keep follow-up visits
Being open and honest with your health care team is another proven method of improving adherence. Keep all of your appointments as your doctor will need to monitor your response to prescribed medications. These appointments should also be used as an opportunity to talk with your doctor about your medications, any side effects you’ve experienced or any trouble you’ve had with adherence.
Sources: CDC, FDA and Patient Source