How Working With Your Pharmacist Can Help You Adhere to Your Treatment Plan and Improve Your Health

Treatment Non-adherence at a Glance
50% of patients in developed countries don’t take their medications as prescribed. 
20% to 30% of new prescriptions are never filled.
Poor adherence causes 30% to 50% of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths per year in the US among patients diagnosed with a chronic disease. 

Patients diagnosed with chronic illness, like diabetes or high blood pressure, and complicated medication regimens are at an increased risk of not taking medications as instructed. Treatment adherence is the term used when patients take medications exactly as instructed by their doctor. The World Health Organization estimates that only 50% of patients in the US diagnosed with chronic illness adhere to treatment. 

Pharmacists play an important role in helping patients adhere to their treatment plan. How can patients work with their pharmacists to achieve treatment adherence? First, it’s important for patients to understand why they should adhere to treatment instructions.

Why Is it Important to Adhere to Medication and Treatment Plans?

The benefits of adhering to treatment instructions include saving you time and money, but most importantly it can save your life. Medication adherence:

  • Decreases overall medical expenses by reducing the risk of hospitalization. Health complications caused by medication non-adherence can require immediate hospital assistance. For example, not adhering to diabetes medications can cause extremely high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and diabetic coma. 
  • Prevents or delays the condition from getting worse. 
  • Decreases risk of death due to health complications associated with medication non-adherence.

How Can Your Pharmacist Help You Adhere to Your Treatment Plan?

Medication Therapy Management Programs

Medication therapy management (MTM) programs allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to work one-on-one with patients. These programs include a review of the patient’s medications and an action plan to support the patient’s adherence. In some cases, the pharmacist comes to the patient’s home. Other pharmacies make appointments at their location. Ask your pharmacy if they offer medication therapy management programs. 

Consolidating Medications to Make Pick-up Easier

Pharmacies can coordinate prescription refills so that you can pick up all of your medications on the same day each month, instead of having to come in multiple times for multiple medications. 

Reducing the Risk of Drug-Drug Interactions

If you’re taking multiple medications, pharmacists are able to identify possible interactions between two or more medications—called a drug-drug interaction. Drug-drug interactions can cause adverse side effects. Adverse side effects are one of the main reasons why patients stop taking their medications. If your pharmacist sees that there is the possibility of a drug-drug interaction, he/she can work with your doctor to find an alternative prescription and reduce the risk of adverse side effects. 

Get to Know Your Pharmacist and Keep in Touch

Having a personal connection with your doctor and your pharmacist is a big part of medication adherence. If you have questions about your medication, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or your pharmacist. Taking medications exactly as instructed by your doctor could save your life.