Why do patients stop taking their medication? 3 reasons: reminders, money and communication.
Nonadherence is costly, physically dangerous, unnecessary and important. One in four patients prescribed antihypertensives stop them within 6 months. One in three patients are off their statins within 12 months.
And not because they have lowered their cholesterol level with food (although they could learn how in the WSJ. Or by ChefMD video).
To improve the chances that people will take their meds:
*For clinicians: provide clear written instruction, anticipate side effects, and have another person available to answer questions within a few days of Rx.
In the office, have patients repeat back to you how they will take the meds and for how long.
*For patients: empowerment. Keep a daily log of blood pressures/sugars (here is one I use for weight control; adapt it). Is the medicine helping? You need to know.
Bring it every visit and ask the doctor to review it. Show how you were feeling when your blood pressure/sugar was high or low. Does the pharmacy’s have an automatic refill program? Use it.
*Both: discuss pill splitting (which ones?). A larger quantity purchase (means lower co-pays). Look for duplicate medications to omit. That’s the first thing I do when I look at a list.