By Lynne Morioka - Contributor

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Why is it important to take medication exactly as your doctor prescribes?

December 8, 2017

How diligent are you about taking medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor? It turns out that most adults follow directions for their long-term prescriptions only 50 percent of the time, according to a World Health Organization report. Cost of prescriptions, a fear of side-effects, not feeling any difference and forgetfulness are all reported as barriers.

In keeping with our mission to make a healthy difference in people’s lives, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is working to help more people take their prescriptions in a consistent manner –  a practice known in the industry as “medication adherence.”

Why is taking medication as prescribed so important?

“Medications have gone through significant testing and clinical trials to determine their effectiveness and best treatment of a particular condition,” says Randy Hanna, R.Ph., senior pharmacy director for Blue Cross.

“Taking less medicine than you need or not taking medication as frequently as you should can lead to ineffective treatment. Taking it too often or in too high of doses can potentially lead to unwanted— and sometimes significant— side effects.”

Tips to take medication on time and on schedule

Hanna offers some tips to help people to remember to take their medication on time and on schedule:

Understand your condition and why the medication is important.

When you know how to avoid or reduce side-effects and why effectiveness is dependent on taking the medication exactly as prescribed, you’ll be more likely to follow the instructions.

Use reminders.

Daily pill packs, pill bottle caps with electronic reminders and phone apps with text reminders can help you make sure taking your medication on time doesn’t slip your mind. There’s even a pharmacy called Pill Pak that will package medications in a daily reminder pouch.


Talk to your pharmacist.

Some pharmacies will help people with medication synchronization.

Take medication as prescribed for best health

“Taking medications as prescribed will help ensure that you receive the most effective treatment,” says Hanna. “By doing this, you will have a higher likelihood to experience the best possible health outcomes and limit situations that can lead to more costs, such as additional doctor visits or even hospitalizations.”



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