Speak up if your medication plan doesn't work for you

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Taking medication as directed can be challenging –whether you’re the patient or the loved one trying to help.

Pharmacist Jennifer Polzin encourages everyone to ask questions and express any concerns with the doctor. She likes to go in with a list of questions and often equips her own loved ones with questions to ask: Why am I taking this? How should I take it? How much will it cost? Are there any alternatives?

If you know you are sensitive to medications or have difficulty remembering to take them, be sure to mention that. Doctors have lots of options these days. Sometimes you can take one pill a day instead of three, for example.

“[We] know that when patients are engaged and understand the importance, they are more likely to follow the directions,” she said.

Cost is often a barrier for patients. Case manager Jennifer Leisegang has helped many Premera customers get the medication they need. First, she encourages everyone to be honest about any cost barriers with their doctor or pharmacist. 

“[Your doctor] would rather have you bring up the subject than to not take the medication,” Leisegang said.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions. If you’re not going to take it, make sure there’s open communication about that, Leisegang said. That way, they can be aware of any potential complications that you might have.

If you still need help, case managers can help find resources, so you don’t have to figure it out for yourself—or forego medication.

Another barrier is keeping all the pills organized. Smartphone apps can help with reminders for medications. Plastic pill organizers and services that package morning and afternoon doses can also help. Just be careful if you have dosage or drug changes.

One way to keep it organized is to keep a list of medication. The Premera mobile app can help with this. 

Make sure to bring the list each time you go to the doctor. If, for example, your eye doctor gives you a prescription, your primary care won’t know about that. Make sure everyone on your healthcare team knows what you’re taking. Be sure to include any supplements or over-the-counter medication you take regularly. 

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