Medication Adherence


What is Medication Adherence?

Medication adherence refers to whether you take your medication as prescribed. Medication works best when it is taken as written on your prescription label. It can impact your quality and length of life, health outcomes and overall healthcare costs.  It requires your active involvement with your medical team to improve your health.

Everybody misses a dose of medication from time to time. There are many things that can affect whether you are adherent to your prescribed medication. Money, transportation, physical and/or cognitive impairment, health literacy, access to care, side effects, availability of medication, and lack of communication/education by your provider are just a few.

Why is Medication Adherence important?

Nonadherence to medication can account for up to 50% of treatment failures, around 125,000 deaths, and 25% of hospitalizations in the US per year. If you do not take your medication as prescribed your condition can get worse. This can lead to more medication that you may have to take, increased costs of more provider visits and/or hospital stays, and at the worst, loss of life. If your current medication plan isn’t working for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your medical team.

Who can help?

The first place to start is your pharmacy. Pharmacists rank in the top 5 most trusted professionals. They are also the most accessible and frequently visited members of the healthcare team. Start by asking if you can get a 90-day supply of your daily medications and if they can be put on an automatic refill program. This will ensure that you do not run out of your daily medications. Your pharmacist can also help you with questions regarding side effects, dosing schedules, medication availability/backorder issues and financial assistance programs. Your pharmacy team wants you to do well on your prescribed medication.

The second person is your provider. If you do not understand or remember why you are taking a medication, a medication is making you feel unwell, or the cost is just too much for you, be honest with your medical team. Don’t suffer in silence. They want to help you succeed and better your health. There are often other treatment options that your provider can consider. Remember medication adherence requires your ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT with your medical team. 

The final person who can help is YOU! Create a regular routine around taking your meds, like at mealtimes or when you brush your teeth. Use a pill box to set up your daily meds for the whole week. Flip your bottle over after you take your medication so you know it has been taken. Use a sticky note reminder on your fridge or mirror. Use your cell phone to set a daily alarm or use a medication reminder mobile app. These are just a few helpful tips that can help you remember to take your medication.

  1. Medication Adherence: Its Importance in Cardiovascular Outcomes. P. Michael Ho, Chris L. Bryson and John S. Rumsfeld. Originally published16 Jun 2009 2009;119:3028–3035
  2. US Pharmacist; PUBLISHED JANUARY 19, 2018 MEDICATION MANAGEMENT Medication Adherence: The Elephant in the Room.
  3. Manolakis PG, Skelton JB. Pharmacists' contributions to primary care in the United States collaborating to address unmet patient care needs: the emerging role for pharmacists to address the shortage of primary care providers. Am J Pharm Educ. 2010 Dec 15;74(10):S7. doi: 10.5688/aj7410s7. PMID: 21436916; PMCID: PMC3058447.
  4. University of Minnesota (2018). Getting the Most from my Medicines [Brochure] Retrieved from

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