4 Ways to Make Sure You Take Your Meds

If you’re like most, you may not be doing it right

women looking through pills in cabinet

Medicine can’t help you unless you take it correctly. Radical concept, right? Well, the fact is almost 70 percent of people with a condition requiring multiple meds say they’ve had a problem always taking them properly. And research shows that half the medications prescribed for serious conditions are not taken as directed, which can have dire or deadly consequences.  

So, take your medicine, using these helpful expert tips:

Get it in writing
In addition to listening to what your doctor has to say, ask for printed or written instructions to take home with you, and read the ones that come with the Rx when you get it from the pharmacy. 

Get everything sorted out
Pill boxes come in a wide array of options for divvying medicines up—some with just a week’s worth of single compartments and some that have enough boxes for morning, noon, and night. The benefit here: You can see at a glance if you’ve taken your medicine.

Even simpler is to use a pharmacy that packages multiple medicines for you into pouches: They fill all your prescriptions then presort the meds by date and time, so you will have all of your pills for, say, Saturday at 7 a.m. in one little bag. One example is the online pharmacy PillPack.

Try some drug-organizing apps 
If you’re among the 77 percent of Americans with a smartphone, open up your app store and see what’s available in the realm of prescription-med services. You may be surprised. There are hundreds of choices, which (fortunately) have been evaluated by pharmacy professor Lindsey Dayer from the University of Arkansas. Some of the top-ranking ones available for both Android and Apple platforms are Medisafe, Care4Today, CareZone, and MyMeds. You can also ask your health care providers what they recommend, or do your own investigation. Dayer recommends looking for apps that:

  • Have positive reviews from users (check the rating as well as the number of users who voted)
  • Have been updated recently
  • Can handle the number of medicines you take (not all can deal with three medicines or more)
  • Can alert your health care team, a family member, or caregiver if you’re missing doses
  • Have interaction warnings
  • Allow you to “snooze” alerts (but not cancel) if you’re busy, so you can get a follow-up alert later 
  • Is easy for you to use. Before you plug in all your info, play around with the app to ensure you can read and understand it

Take advantage of pharmacy options
Many pharmacies have an app that uses data from your account to provide reminders when it’s time for a refill. You can get text alerts if you sign up for them. Also ask your pharmacist these questions:

  • Can I get set up with automatic refills?
  • Can I get all or most medicines refilled on the same schedule? (That means fewer drives to the drugstore—and fewer errands to remember.)
  • Can I get multiple months of medicine at a time? Is it covered by my plan? (Getting a 90-day supply instead of 30-day has been shown to improve adherence.)