Get the best results from your medication
If you live with a chronic condition, you know that taking your medication regularly is one of the best ways to stay healthy.
Of course, medicine won’t work if it’s not taken as prescribed. Following your prescription instructions — what’s known as “medication adherence” — gives you the strongest opportunity to manage chronic conditions and keep yourself in the best possible health.
Why medication adherence is important
Decades ago, we didn’t have many of the medications we have today. Now, diseases that used to claim millions of lives every year can be successfully managed with medication. For example, from 1969 to 2013, death rates from heart disease fell from 520 deaths per 100,000 Americans to just 169 per 100,000.1
In 2018, about 1 in 2 adults in the United States live with chronic diseases or conditions.2 Yet we’re living longer, healthier lives, in large part due to the availability of medicines that help us stay well.3 Studies show that people who don’t miss doses of their diabetes, blood pressure, or cholesterol medications are healthier, have lower medical costs, and are less likely to have related health issues or hospitalizations.
As a Kaiser Permanente member, you have many resources to help you understand your medications and take them as prescribed. These tools can also help you manage prescriptions for a friend or family member. Since most people will take medication regularly at some point in their lives, it’s important to know how to manage your medications confidently and safely.
Try these helpful tips to stay on track
- Talk to your care team. Contact your doctor or pharmacist and ask them how to take your medicine correctly. They can tell you how to manage your medications, including what to do if you miss a dose, whether you can take them with other drugs or vitamins, foods to avoid, and any possible side effects and interactions.
- Track your health goals. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what you need to check and how often. For example, it may be important for you to know your blood pressure or blood sugar readings on a regular basis.
- Use a reminder tool. Make it easier to keep track of your medicine schedule with a pill box, calendar, mobile phone, or medication tracker app. Create alarm reminders so you don’t forget to take your doses.
- Set up your routine. Get in the habit of taking your medicine at the same time each day, or during a daily activity such as eating breakfast or dinner.
- Keep your eye on the bottle. Place your medicines where you can see them every day, like your kitchen counter or nightstand — as long as it’s a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
- Get support from loved ones. Ask family or friends to remind you to take and refill your medicines. Even better, remind your family and friends to take and refill their medicines on time. It’s a great way let them know you care.
- Plan ahead for refills and travel. Don’t forget to order medication refills 5 to 7 days before you run out, so you don’t miss a dose.
- Use our convenient mail order option. It saves a trip to the pharmacy, there’s no extra charge, and you might even save money on your share of the cost.
- Get a text when your prescription is ready. Our new messaging service alerts you to pick up your order. Sign up in your pharmacy today.
- Find out if you can get help with your out-of-pocket costs. Depending on your income level, you might qualify for Kaiser Permanente’s financial assistance program. It doesn’t hurt to apply.
If you’re prescribed medication, follow your doctor’s instructions so you get the best results. Be sure to let your physician know if you stop taking any of your prescribed medications, and why. With accurate information, your doctor can help you make the best decisions about your care.
1“Heart disease death rate continues to drop,” American Heart Association, https://news.heart.org/heart-disease-death-rate-continues-to-drop, accessed July 19, 2018.
2“Chronic Conditions in America: Price and Prevalence,” Rand Review, Rand Corporation, https://www.rand.org/blog/rand-review/2017/07/chronic-conditions-in-america-price-and-prevalence.html, accessed July 20, 2018.
3Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm, accessed July 5, 2018.