BONUS – RUSTENBURG - People suffering from chronic conditions may feel that ‘nothing bad can happen’ if they miss a script every now and then, but the reality paints a very different picture: non-adherence to medication could be very dangerous. “It’s easy to forget to take a pill once in a while, but we understand the importance of adherence to chronic medication. Simply put, better adherence to your medication regime results in better health outcomes,” says Dis-Chem’s pharmacy executive Zaheera Dindar. “We are on a mission to ensure that all our customers follow their own journey towards better health, and a key component of this is sticking to a chronic medicines regimen.”
To make it easier for patients to follow medication regimens, Dis-Chem has introduced several measures:
* a reminder SMS every month when medicines are due
* patients can submit a new prescription or place a repeat prescription order for delivery via the Dis-Chem app, SMS, WhatsApp or email.
* It also has mechanisms in place to remind customers when scripts need to be renewed.
A recent add-on to the prescription service is the packaging of all repeat medications in-store in blister packs, at a nominal monthly cost. This is especially convenient for those patients who need to take several tablets daily and is great for travelling. Instead of receiving multiple medication containers, you can request an envelope that bundles your medication into daily dosage compartments. Customers can order medicines to be blister packed as a monthly supply of four envelopes, each of which contains medicine for seven days.
Failing to take prescribed medicine may worsen your health condition and compromises your health significantly. According to research reported by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research in the US shows that the efficacy of medication may be reduced by as much as 50% if not taken as prescribed.
While it may be easy to forget a pill occasionally, Dindar reports that non-adherence is a far larger matter, with many patients neglecting to have their scripts filled. “For example, we have found that some patients have just five out of 12 scripts filled for anti-depressants, while some people requiring medication for diabetes fill fewer than six scripts. This can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing”
With this in mind, Dindar offers some tips that may improve adherence:
Same time, every day
It can be useful to take your medication at a specific time every day, when you are performing another daily task, such as brushing your teeth. This ensures that it becomes part of your routine. Alternatively, set an alarm on your phone. Before choosing mealtime for your routine, check if your medication should be taken on a full or empty stomach.
Your healthcare professional knows best
Some patients find the drug regiments prescribed by their doctors too complex to follow, or they may believe that they no longer need to take the medication. Perhaps they have started feeling better (or felt no different when they started taking the medication), or they have experienced negative side-effects that make them reluctant to continue. It may also be that they feel they weren’t involved sufficiently in the decision-making process, or the need for the medication wasn’t communicated adequately, or they may find it difficult to access the required drugs. Some patients have also cited fear of dependency as reasons for stopping their medication too soon. In any of these circumstances, discuss your concerns with your pharmacist.
Understand the what if
Failing to take your medication as prescribed can have far-reaching consequences. Often, a daily pill is all it takes to prevent a condition from progressing, or to stop a potentially life-threatening complication from developing – which may require further treatment or even hospitalisation. Even if you don’t reach a point where lack of adherence affects morbidity and mortality, your quality of life and overall wellbeing is likely to be impacted, and you’ll probably end up paying more for additional treatment required.
When travelling, make sure to bring enough of your medication, plus a few days extra, in case your return is delayed. If you’re flying, keep your medication in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost.