When it comes to medication, following directions is key to success

Published February 18, 2016

When it comes to medication, following directions is key to success

Prescription drugs are a vitally important part of medical treatment, helping millions live healthier lives through effective cures and better management of chronic conditions. Unfortunately, nearly three out of four people report that they do not always take their medication as directed. In fact, more than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations are due to patients’ failure to adhere to their doctor’s instructions, and nonadherence adds $290 billion in avoidable costs to the healthcare system annually.

It’s important to follow your doctor's directions when taking medicine. Take the right dose, at the right time, and abide by any other instructions your doctor has given you. That’s the best way to make sure your prescription works properly, and the best way to protect yourself against adverse side effects, including avoidable illness, hospital stays and even death. 

If you find yourself forgetting to take your prescription, there are a number of simple and effective aids to keep you on track. A seven-day pill box allows you to easily check if you’ve taken your medication.  Many people have also had success setting an alarm to remind them to take their medications at the proper time. After you have finished your prescription, it is important that you properly dispose of any unused medication. The simplest way to do so is to attend a National Drug Take-Back Day event, hosted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. If that’s not possible, contact your local pharmacy or health department for advice on drug disposal.    

If side effects or the price of your prescription are stopping you from taking your medications as directed, talk to your doctor. There may be alternative treatments or lower-cost generic options available. Generic drugs contain the same active ingredients, strength, and dosage as brand name drugs and are just as safe and effective. Yet the cost of generics is 80 to 85 percent lower than the equivalent brand-name product.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are committed to helping Americans manage their health.  For example, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has released a report highlighting how improving medication adherence in upstate New York can improve health and save billions. Learn more about Excellus’ efforts to improve medication adherence and simple ways to remember to take your medications as directed.

Questions about how to make sure you are taking your medicine as directed?  Contact your local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company