If your doctor has prescribed a medication for you, you want to be sure you’re getting the most benefit from that drug. Medication adherence is important to get the most benefit from the medications used to treat your condition. The causes of non-adherence, when a patient either accidentally or knowingly does not take medications as prescribed, can be complex. Non-adherence is often the result of cost; patients who simply can’t afford their medications. However, good habits and a good understanding of the medication can also be a big part of adherence, and can help you stick to your medication schedule.
World Health Organization defined adherence as “the extent to which a person’s behavior – taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes, corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider.” The concept that healthcare professionals manage medical conditions is true only in case of hospitalized patients. The bottom line is, medications don’t work in patients who don’t take them, or don’t take them as prescribed.
In an outpatient setting, the healthcare professionals’ role is limited to providing products (medications and/or monitoring devices) and educational tools. Taking medications, on time and properly, is left up to the patient or their in-home caregiver. There are several techniques to help you remember to take your medications as prescribed and manage their own medical condition. As the patient, you have the ultimate control for safe and effective treatment.
Two Steps to Medication Adherence
Adherence to medication can be achieved in two simple steps; understanding and behavior changes. Understanding includes knowledge of your medical condition and how your prescribed medication can help to manage it. Here are a few helpful websites:
- http://www.patienteducationcenter.org/ – The health-related content on the website is provided by Harvard Medical School. Medical conditions are listed alphabetically from A to Z.
- https://medlineplus.gov/ – Produced by the National Library of Medicine, provides reliable information on medical conditions, drugs, herbs, and supplements.
- https://www.wellrx.com/ – ScriptSave® WellRx allows you to search for the lowest prices on prescription medications at nearby pharmacies, and provides overviews of the medications. Our Ask a Pharmacist phone line lets you talk to a pharmacist about prescription medicines, dosing, or medication interaction questions. Registered members have access to a free suite of personal wellness tools in the Medicine Chest, including:
- Ask a Pharmacist
- Pill Reminders
- Refill Reminders
- Medication Information (in both English and Spanish)
- Medication Videos
- Mood-tracking (to review side effects, etc.)
- Price-check and Pharmacy Locator
Behavioral changes mean finding ways to stay on track with your medication schedule. Finding the right tool or a combination of methods that fit best your lifestyle is key to medication adherence. Here are some ways to stay on track:
- Integrate your medication to your daily routine, such as brushing your teeth or watching your favorite TV show.
- Set one/multiple daily alarm using a clock, mobile phone, or computer.
- Ask a family member and/or friend give you a call remainder.
- Pill boxes are another way to organize your scheduled medications. Pill boxes are available in different forms that allow you/your caregiver to fill them daily, weekly, or even monthly.
- Medication charts can be developed by own or with the help of a healthcare professional. Keep an updated chart with medication names, dose, when you take them, and what are you taking them for. You can refer to the chart if you get confused with your medications.
- Plan ahead for medication refills and mark a calendar to make sure you always have your medication when necessary.
- If you have a smart phone, the free ScriptSave WellRx app can be used to remind you to take your medications, refill your medications, and track how the medications make you feel.
We hope these tips on medication adherence have helped. Download our free app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store, and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools. If you’re struggling to afford your medications, visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you. You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!