As you know, we are deeply passionate about pill management. But while we embarked upon this journey because of our own experience helping loved ones with their medications, non-adherence results in an estimated $100-300 Billion in annual medical costs, and an estimated 125,000 deaths per year.
But many may not realize that non-adherence is most often by choice. According to the AMA, these are the most common reasons people don’t take their pills:
- Patients may be experiencing fear about possible side effects.
- The high cost of the medication may cause patients to delay or avoid purchasing their prescription.
- Patients may be experiencing confusion about how the medication helps, particularly in cases of those with chronic illnesses who don’t see improvement right away.
- When taking multiple prescriptions and doses, it’s much more likely for a patient to lose track and forget to take their pills.
- When they start to feel better, patients may choose to discontinue treatment before it’s time.
- Patients worry that they’ll become dependent upon the medication.
- Patients suffering from depression are more likely to be non-adherent.
- When a patient feels suspicious of their doctor and his/her perceived relationship with pharmaceutical companies, they may be less likely to comply.
There are countless other personal reasons that people have for non-adherence, but the greatest area of opportunity is with communication. Patients rely heavily on doctors for education and reassurance, but you are your own best advocate. Here are 4 ways you can help yourself better manage your medical adherence:
- Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your doctor may think their explanation of what the medication does was clear, or that the usage instructions were straightforward, so if you keep quiet they won’t realize there’s an issue. Ask questions and express concerns, your doctor is there to help you.
- Enlist a partner. Informing a friend or family member of your regimen and having them join you at appointments provides you with another set of eyes, ears, and hands.
- Use tools that will help. Organizers and other containers, reminder apps, smartphone alarms, a spreadsheet, a calendar – there are many ways to manage the regular taking of pills. Choose what best helps you stay organized, and stick with it.
- Don’t use the internet to self-diagnose. Medical websites and online forums should never take the place of your doctor.
By not adhering to his or her treatment plan, a patient doesn’t reap the benefits that medication is intended to provide. Patients may feel helpless when faced with illness, but by managing one’s health he or she may end up feeling more empowered. And eventually healthier.