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Posts Tagged ‘patient adherence’

One of the great joys of medicine is seeing patients get better. One of the greatest frustrations is seeing patients not improve as expected with treatment.

One of the biggest problems in medicine — one that causes patients to suffer and that increases the cost of care — is that patients don’t take their medications as recommended.

A research group in Massachusetts studied how well patients with eczema take their medications and whether text messages could increase patients’ use of the medicine.  The researchers found that the text messages did increase patients’ use of the prescribed treatment.

People can improve the effectiveness of our health care system just by doing a better job taking their medications.  Hopefully, the new, inexpensive electronic technologies can help patients do that.

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My gerontologist has me taking generic Zocor daily to help control my cholesterol. Having obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I’m very good at taking the drug regularly. I have a seven-day pillbox that helps me remember to take the medicine as directed. But even I’m not perfect.  

A few days before my prescription ran out, I called the pharmacy for a refill. The prescription had become outdated, so the pharmacy had to contact my physician’s office for the refill. No problem. I had contacted the pharmacy several days before my pill bottle would be empty. I had four days to get the medication. 

Everything went perfectly well. The pharmacist contacted the doctor, the doctor refilled the medication, and the pharmacist prepared the prescription. Then I forgot to pick it up. I missed about three days before I realized my error.  

OK, so I missed three days. Fortunately, this isn’t the kind of medication for which missing doses can mean life or death (like HIV drug treatments or immunosuppressive drugs in someone who had an organ transplant). I rarely miss doses, realizing that if I want the drug to work, I probably need to take it.  

If a patient isn’t taking the drug exactly as directed, it isn’t the end of the world. Just be honest with your doctor about it. It’s hard enough to make a treatment plan when the doctor knows what the patient is doing. It’s that much harder when the doctor doesn’t know. 

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