OPINION: Medication adherence can save lives, moneyA staggering 75 percent of Americans do not always take their medications as directed.
By: Molly Mack, Guest columnist
What words come to mind when one thinks about health care? I would not be surprised to hear “expensive” or similar terms mentioned by many Americans.
The high cost of health care is a popular topic of discussion in the United States, but many Americans do not realize that simple medication adherence, taking medication exactly as it is prescribed, can improve their health and save the nation billions of dollars.
Medication adherence has become a complex and extensive public health issue. A staggering 75 percent of Americans do not always take their medications as directed. More than one in three medication-related hospitalizations occur because an individual did not take his or her medication correctly, resulting in nearly 125,000 deaths each year.
Billions of dollars are wasted each year when poor medication adherence results in decreased health and additional emergency room visits, procedures, doctor appointments, treatments and medications.
As a student pharmacist, the issue of medications adherence is especially significant to me. I know there are many reasons why people do not take their medications as directed. However, individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are putting both their health and their futures at risk when they do not take their medications correctly.
The solution starts with a conversation between patients and health professionals. South Dakota students studying in health-related fields have teamed up with the national Script Your Future campaign to raise awareness across South Dakota about the importance of taking medication as prescribed. In the coming weeks, pharmacy, nursing and other health-related students from the area will join Script Your Future campaign volunteers across the United States in a coordinated effort to start more conversations about the medication challenges our patients face and what we can do to help them.
Students are educating the public through news programs, social media, magazines, newspapers and by making themselves present in hospitals and retail pharmacies across the state.
Almost 50 percent of Americans have at least one chronic condition that requires ongoing medication use. This situation forces us to change the way we think about health care, from an isolated event that happens only in a doctor’s office to an ongoing process that involves health systems, family, community and personal responsibility.
We need to educate our community about the importance of taking medication as directed, as a vital first step toward better health. To learn more about medication adherence, please visit www.scriptyourfuture.org.
Molly Mack, Brookings, is a member of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists.