By Cynthia Miller
Sticking to your medication routine – known as medication adherence – means taking your medications as prescribed. The right dose, at the right time, in the right way and frequency.
Why is this important? Simply put, not taking your medicine as prescribed by a doctor or instructed by a pharmacist could lead to your health getting worse, hospitalization and possibly death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that non-adherence causes 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures and more than 125,000 deaths per year in the United States.
Taking your medicine as prescribed is important for controlling chronic conditions, treating temporary illnesses and your overall long-term health and well-being.
However, even knowing this:
- Twenty to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy.
- For patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases, after six months, the majority take less medication than prescribed or quit using their medication altogether.
As you can see, this is truly a problem. Here are eight tips that could help you stay medication adherent and improve your health and wellness:
- Take your medication at the same time every day.
- Try taking your medications in conjunction with a daily routine like brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed.
- Keep a “medicine calendar” with your pill bottles and note each time you take a dose.
- Use a pill container. Some types have sections for multiple doses at different times, such as morning, lunch, evening and night.
- When using a pill container, refill it at the same time each week. For example, every Sunday morning after breakfast.
- When travelling, be certain to bring enough of your medication, plus a few days extra, in case your return is delayed.
If you have questions about your medication, don’t be shy — ask your health-care provider or pharmacist…it could truly save your life!
Dr. Cynthia Miller is the Corporate Medical Director for WellCare Health Plans, Inc.