Communication is Key to Medication Adherence

Study Shows Patients Who Give Their Doctors High Marks in Communication More Likely to Fill Prescriptions

Even the best medicines in the world can be rendered ineffective if they are not taken as prescribed. The problem known as medication “non-adherence” is a major health issue in the United States, contributing to worse outcomes for people who have diabetes and other chronic diseases.

In order to help maintain member health, the District’s Joint Health Management Board (JHMB) reviews monthly summaries of the number of members filling prescriptions for chronic disease through the health benefit versus the number of members missing a refill. In 2011, 53% of members taking medication for diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipemia were consistently filling their prescriptions. In 2012, this number dropped to 44%.

A recent national study by JAMA Internal Medicine looked at 9,377 patients taking medications to lower blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol. These patients were asked through questionnaires to rate how well their doctors communicated with them and this data was correlated against delays in refilling prescriptions. The patients who gave their doctors poor marks in communicating were less likely to adhere to their medications. Independent of whether the doctor discussed medication adherence with the patient, the study found that a trusting doctor/patient relationship centered upon effective communication improved medication adherence.

The JHMB has had a program in place for medication adherence since 2011, where plan participants on medication for high blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol receive customized information on their own adherence. However, it takes more than simply awareness to improve adherence, it also requires effective communication with health care professionals.

Here are three ways you can improve communication between you and your health care providers regarding your medications:


  • Ask your pharmacist at the dispensing pharmacy any questions you have about the medication, dosage, and any information you do not understand on the label instructions.
  • Ask your prescribing physician any questions you have about the medication, its health effects and risk factors, and the length of time needed for medication treatment.
  • Contact EnvisionRx Customer Service at (800) 361-4542 for information about your prescription drug plan and how to make the most of your benefit.[/bullet]

The JHMB will continue to share summary data throughout the year to fulfill its mission of ensuring District employees are informed and responsible health care consumers.

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