I went to a very progressive medical school, and one of the principles I learned was that it is not good enough to make the diagnosis and prescribe the right medications. You have to remove as many obstacles as possible that may be interfering with your patients taking the drug.
The most prevalent obstacles tend to be:
- Price-identify sources that are less expensive
- Convenience-delivery vs. in-store pick up
- Organization-reminders of which medications to take and when
It’s important to help your patients find the least expensive option. There are really so many ways to save money since the price of the same medication can vary by type (branded vs. generic) and source (online vs. in-store).
Generally, there are two types of medications available: branded and generic.
Almost all manufacturers of name brand medications have a manufacturer’s coupon. It is usually as simple as searching for it on the web and printing it out. Sometimes you have to register in order to receive it. Often, a patient’s insurance company will require preauthorization for a branded drug, putting the responsibility on the patient and doctor. Many branded medications have specialty pharmacies they work with, which can obtain approval and automatically apply the coupons. We always try to send the prescription to the specialty pharmacy handling it. We will also do our best to obtain preauthorization of drugs for our patients.
In general, we are great believers in the equivalence of most generic drugs to their branded counterparts. For generics, there are new mail order pharmacies that can be so inexpensive that the cost of medications is even cheaper than your insurance co-pay. For medications your insurance may not pay for, or not in adequate amounts (like generic Cialis and Viagra), these pharmacies are an exceptional option.
For most of our patients’ prescriptions, we utilize CostPlusDrugs.com. However, the patient needs to register on costplusdrugs.com before we can send in the prescription.
It’s also important to offer patients options for conveniently obtaining their medications. Standing in line at a pharmacy each month is not fun or convenient for many people. We try to use delivery or mail order pharmacies for these patients, and to order the medications in larger quantities, if approved by their insurance company, and clinically appropriate.
It can be very difficult for patients to remember whether or not they’ve taken their medications each day. Add to the mix the fact that many are taking multiple medications on different schedules and it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll miss a few dosages.
A large pill box may make you feel like your grandparents –old. However, if you take more than one medication a day, it is worthwhile. You just load it up with a month’s worth of medication at a time. I recommend the ones where the strips of four compartments come out of the tray. This makes it easy to travel with one or two strips, rather than all your pill bottles. My suggestion is to keep it with your toothbrush, and if appropriate, take them at night before you brush your teeth.
In order to ensure you’re taking the medications that were prescribed to you, make sure you and your prescribing practitioner remove as many obstacles as possible. It should be a team effort. You should be honest with your practitioner if you are not taking your medications, so they can troubleshoot the problem(s) with you.