September 07, 2017
Did you know that almost half of all Americans who have a chronic condition are not taking their medications as directed? As a pharmacist, I have seen countless patients struggle with their medication routines first hand. This results in expensive hospital bills, further medical complications, and overall declining health.
But there are ways to stay on a prescribed schedule to keep your medications as effective as possible:
While pill boxes and timers are some of the most common tools people use for organizing and timing doses, there are a couple other things you may want to try:
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of your medications are available as a combination product so that you can reduce the total number of pills you take per day.
• Find out if your pharmacy offers multi-dose packaging (also called pill packs). These custom-filled doses of your medications are pre-packaged by date and time and can be a real game-changer.
For many, the biggest obstacle, by far, is cost. Here are a few things you can do to help save money.
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a lower-cost therapeutic alternative or generic is right for you.
• If your drug does not have a generic, ask your doctor or pharmacist about lower cost therapeutic alternatives.
• Use a drug-pricing tool to compare costs for generic and brand-name versions and calculate how much you could save by using mail-order pharmacy. Independence Blue Cross members can find a drug pricing tool on ibxpress.com.
If the last pill in the bottle always takes you by surprise, here are a few suggestions to help ensure you’ll have your next refill on hand when you need it.
• Ask your doctor to write a prescription for a 90-day supply with refills for your maintenance medications.
• Sign up for mail-order service, if your health plan offers it.
• Take advantage of any services your pharmacy might offer to make remembering and filling your prescriptions easier, including:
- Signing up to get text messages or email reminders that notify you when it’s time to refill your medications
- Ordering your refills online or by mobile app
- Asking if your pharmacy can refill your prescriptions automatically and let you know when they are ready (also called an automatic refill service)
- Using your pharmacy’s home delivery service
- Picking up your prescriptions without getting out of your car by using the drive-thru window
In the end, it all comes down to what works for you. Remember, prescription medications are there to help maintain your well-being. If you, or a loved one, are having problems taking your medications as prescribed — for any reason — don’t wait. Talk to your doctor right away. IBX members can also speak with registered nurse Health Coaches by calling the number on the back of their ID card.
Harshal Amin is a Sr. Clinical Pharmacist supporting Pharmacy Services and Government Markets from a Medicare STARS and overall quality improvement perspective at Independence Blue Cross.
This content was originally published on IBX Insights.