The following article is a guest post.
Everyone knows it happens every once in awhile. You accidentally skip a dose of your asthma medicine, or you forget to bring your blood pressure prescription with you on your weekend getaway.
No big deal right?
Turns out not taking prescriptions as directed is a real public health problem with serious consequences. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 50% of patients do not take medicine as prescribed. This not only increases rates of disability, morbidity, and mortality, but it is a huge burden on the healthcare industry as a whole, costing upwards of over $100 billion every year worldwide.
Experts believe there is a multitude of reasons patients don’t stick to the guidelines of their prescriptions.
Sometimes patients are unclear about their own condition and treatment, they are weary of drug side effects. They lack a care network to support them, are confused by complicated drug regimens. Decide they simply don’t need the medicine, or just can’t afford it.
Fortunately, there are creative, basic, and effective ways for people and their treating doctors to address medicine non-adherence and boost health outcomes at the same time. These include:
1. Sticking with a schedule.
Taking your medicine each day simply “when you remember to” often doesn’t cut it when it comes to staying on track and adhering to your prescription as it is written.
It’s oftentimes the easiest to take medicine in the morning when you wake up and get dressed, or in the evening before bed.
Sticking with a schedule where you take your medicine at the same time every day can actually help you commit it to memory.
If your medicine requires you eat food with it or take it at a specific time during the day, you may want to set a digital reminder on your phone and other digital devices (i.e. work computer) so that you have a backup alert to keep you on track.
2. Use an app.
A 2014 study found that medicine adherence apps have the potential to help people better remember to take their medicine.
Both patients and clinicians may benefit from apps which are designed to manage medicine schedules, alert users when it is time to take pills, refill prescriptions, and provide drug information. Popular medicine management apps include Medisafe, Pillboxie, Care Zone, and Pill Reminder from Drugs.com.
3. Talk with your doctor.
For many people, especially those with chronic illness who take multiple prescriptions a day, it’s simply the complexity of medicine regimens that makes it difficult to stay on schedule.
One patient, for example, might need to take three pills in the morning with similar shapes and sizes. As well as ingest an orally suspended (liquid) prescription, and take a puff of an inhaler. And then repeat the process one or two more times through the day but with more or less drugs or different ones altogether.
Talking with your doctor about dosage frequency, i.e. reducing the times you take medicine, is an important conversation to have. That can help simplify your medicine schedule to help you stay on track.
4. Travel smart.
Traveling with prescription medicine can get messy fast. You never want to pack your prescription bottles in checked luggage when flying in case the airline loses your luggage. But you also don’t want to dump all the pills you’ll need on a trip into one bottle because it will be difficult to sort through later. And you want to keep up with refills so you don’t get stuck on the road without your prescription.
So how do you keep it all organized? Time-of-the-day and day-of-the-week pill organizers can help you sort and neatly organize all the pills you will need for a trip and are fairly inexpensive.
For great pill case options for your purse, click here.
5. Look for savings.
What if you don’t have a problem remembering to take your prescription, but it’s just the cost that has you taking your medicine less than prescribed or keeps you from refilling on time?
With the healthcare market as volatile as it is, it’s more important than ever to find savings on expensive prescriptions so you can get the treatment you need without breaking the bank.
Drug manufacturers like Pfizer or GlaxoSmithKline will offer discount programs on first-time prescriptions. Or you can look for coupons online at websites like GoodRX.com.
It might also be worth asking your doctor if they have any free samples. Or buying your prescription from a verified international pharmacy like PlanetDrugsDirect with rates lower than your local drugstore.