Adhering to the medicines your doctor has prescribed you (also known as medication adherence) is important for maintaining your health and keeping your medical expenses lower in the long-term. “Medication adherence” means to continue taking medication as long as your doctor directs, and to take medications as prescribed. There are three phases of medication adherence: (1)
- Beginning a new medicine
Do you obtain the medicine from the pharmacy after it’s prescribed and begin taking it?
- Taking the medicine according to doctor’s instructions
Do you take the medication properly, at the prescribed dose, as frequently as prescribed, without missing any doses or taking extra doses?
- Stopping the medication
Do you continue taking the medication until your doctor tells you to stop?
Why is medication adherence important?
Medication adherence can be particularly important for long-term, chronic conditions such as high-cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In the case of high-cholesterol, for example, one study showed that 33 – 50% of patients stopped taking their cholesterol medication within a year of it being prescribed, and the consistency at which they took the medication got worse over time. (1)
A lack of adherence to medications can lead to higher medical costs, because avoidable medical expenses arise when the patient does not take their medications consistently. (1) Often, patients do not understand the potential serious and long-term consequences of not complying with their treatment.
Why don’t patients always adhere to their medications?
There are many reasons why patients don’t take their medications as prescribed. Factors include the patient’s own motivation, expected treatment results, competing priorities, forgetfulness, inadequate patient education, fear of side effects, and other emotional factors. Other factors that can play a role include side effects experienced by the patient, a desire to take fewer medications, and financial considerations.
Each patient has individual reasons for not taking their medications as prescribed. Landmark providers and nurses can help by creating an individualized plan for long-term adherence, including measures such as:
- More convenient care
- More health-related information / patient education
- Reminders to continue taking the medicine
- Reinforcement of medical instructions
- Telephone follow-up
- Supportive care (1)
It is important to work with your Landmark provider and nurse to find ways to take your medications as prescribed. If you are a Landmark patient, talk to your Landmark provider and nurse. He or she may contact a Landmark pharmacist for further support, if needed.