SEATTLE — Among adults with chronic illness, up to half aren’t taking their medications as prescribed. This can lead to hospitalization and even death.
Premera Blue Cross pharmacist Jennifer Polzin recommends preparing for doctor’s visits with a list of questions because healthcare can be complex. Questions can include why it’s important to take the prescribed medications, how often to take them and what side effects are possible.
“We know from literature and from our own experience that many patients when they’re engaged and understand the importance, they will be more likely to follow the directions,” Polzin said.
Polzin and case manager Jennifer Leisegang both stress the importance of open communication with your healthcare providers.
- Talk to your provider about the number of pills you’re taking. Ask if there is a simpler method, a way to combine pills or to take some less often.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects you may be experiencing. Often, they may be able to provide an alternative medication.
- Be honest if you can’t afford your medication. There are assistance programs and discount options available.
“Your doctor would rather have you bring up the subject than not take the medication,” Leisegang said.
Organization is also key when taking many different medications.
- Download a mobile app with reminder functions to keep you on schedule.
- Use plastic containers split by days and times.
- Keep a running list of your medications for each healthcare provider you see, so they can evaluate medication interactions and side effects.
Maintaining open communication and staying organized can help you and those you care about stay safe and healthy.