Following Directions for Your Health

By Earl Whipple

Compliance.  Sounds boring, right?  That may be the case, but when it comes to your health it’s crucial.

Even with the best intentions, people can be forgetful.  Just like with other areas of life, we can be forgetful when it comes to our health – forget to make a doctor’s appointment, forget to actually go to the doctor’s office, and even forget to take medicines as indicated by our doctors.

Even though many of us would say we consider our health a priority, we still have lapses in paying attention to it.  Thankfully, there are products and services designed to help remind us to be more attentive to our health. There are containers to fill pills for each day of the week, calendars, reminder phone calls and emails, and even products such as pill bottle top alarms.

In November of 2009, Dr. Pauline Chen wrote in the New York Times about text message reminders from a company called CareSpeak that reminded patients to take their medications.   Documented in a study at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, investigators found that with the text messaging, patients were more likely to take their medications consistently as directed by their physicians.  We all need reminders from time to time, I know I do and I recommend doing whatever works for you as an individual.

Adherence – taking your medicine as prescribed – is a serious issue that can have consequences which impact patient health.  Lack of adherence to doctor-prescribed medications can lead to adverse health outcomes and decreased quality of life.  Health is too important to take lightly.  When it comes to your health, follow your health care provider’s advice.  Go to your doctor, listen, follow his or her advice and take your medicine as prescribed. Your life may depend on it.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has some good information on medical adherence and prescription safety, including Four Ways to Play it Safe with Medicines.  A good list and some forms to help you keep track of your medicines.