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In this issue: Medication management


Medication management

A doctor writes a prescription. He or she dictates how much medication should be taken, how often and for how long. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates these instructions are only followed 50 percent of the time—in fact, 20 to 30 percent of prescriptions are never even filled.

In addition to the adverse effects non-adherence has on patients—including a decline in wellness, potential medical complications and reduced outcomes—it is estimated this problem costs our healthcare system a whopping $290 billion per year! For a list of simple medication-management tips you can share with your patients to promote adherence, keep reading.

Improve medication adherence

More than half of Americans take at least two prescription medications a day, and 20 percent take five or more. Help them take their meds consistently and wisely with these simple tips:

  • Educate: Doctors’ offices and hospitals can cause patients to feel nervous, anxious and sometimes even afraid. And because of that, even under the best of conditions, remembering everything that was said about medical care and prescription regimens can be confusing. To ensure compliance, patients must walk away with a complete understanding of what medication they are taking, why they are taking it and how often. A medication schedule and pill box can help patients and caretakers monitor and track medications.

Patients may stop taking their prescriptions because of troubling side effects or the perception that a medication is not helping. Clearly outline potential side effects, their duration and ways to help alleviate any undesirable effects. Also, educate patients on the length of time they may need to take medication before experiencing improvements. Have someone on staff talk to patients in person or over the phone to address any concerns. Important contact details can be imprinted on a medical alert guide, pharmacy bags and jar openers. It may also be beneficial to designate someone to follow up with patients after they begin a new medication or regimen.

  • Validate: Some patients aren’t convinced that their medications are necessary or beneficial to their health and wellness. This makes adherence much less likely. Allowing patients the opportunity to be active in their health care and including them in decision-making about their medications can help. Create an open dialogue with patients about their values, preferences and lifestyle, and be sure to discuss multiple treatment options when available.
  • Consider the cost: The price of some prescription drugs can be too much for some to bear. One way to address budgetary concerns is to prescribe comparable, less-expensive drugs. If an alternative isn’t available, you may want to recommend patients check directly with the drug’s manufacturer; some have patient-assistance programs that offer discounts or even free medications for those who cannot afford to pay. Consider printing a list of known patient-assistance resources in your area, and include a magnet or clip to hand out with patient prescriptions.

We all know a medication is only good if it is filled and properly taken. Help your patients become adherent and healthy—better outcomes await!

“Medication Adherence.” cdc.org. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Mar. 2015.

“Medication Adherence in America.” ncpanet.org. National Community Pharmacists Association, 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Mar. 2015.

“Prescription Drugs: 7 Out Of 10 Americans Take At Least One, Study Finds.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 June 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Mar. 2015.

Gottlieb, Harold. “Medication Nonadherence: Finding Solutions to a Costly Medical Problem.” Medscape Multispecialty. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 14 Mar. 2015.

“What Is Shared Decision Making?” Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. Healthwise Incorporated, n.d. Web. Retrieved 16 Mar. 2015.

“5 Ways to Save Money on Your Medications.” National Council on Aging. N.p., 08 Feb. 2013. Web. Retrieved 16 Mar. 2015.

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