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What Color Is My Pill, Doc? Using Technology to Improve Medication Compliance

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 9, 2014 | Kevin Campbell

In general, today's patients are taking more medications for a multitude of ailments. Even for the most astute patients, keeping track of doses and regimens can be a challenge. Add in changes in color and appearance of chronic medications and the task can often be overwhelming, especially for elderly patients with cognitive decline. We must look for alternative ways to assist our patients with managing their disease while at home. I believe technology is the answer...

Taking Risks With Needed Drugs Due to High Cost

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 8, 2014 | Ginger Skinner

More than 44 percent of Americans regularly take a prescription drug. And according to the 2013 Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs Prescription Drug Tracking Poll, 57 percent of people reported taking steps in the last year – some of them potentially dangerous – to curb high medication costs: not filling a prescription, skipping a scheduled dose, and taking an expired medication. Why? And what can be done to help?

A Difficult Pill to Swallow

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 17, 2014 | Brandon Kopper

I am a pharmacy student and was recently sent home with a prescription to treat a very painful earache. I do not recall the name of the medication, but I do remember my reaction when I went to pick it up. I was shocked that the drug would cost me over two hundred dollars! I could not afford the medication, so I went home without it...

A Patient's Perspective on the High Cost of Cancer Drugs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 21, 2014 | Andrew Schorr

Many cancer therapies now cost over $100,000 a year. Obviously, this expenditure is not sustainable for the majority of patients. At age 64, I am approaching Medicare coverage. Will I have the 20 percent co-pay to shoulder? As more people survive cancer and remain on ongoing medicines, the U.S. has to have a fair and open discussion about the cost of these medicines...

A Doctor's Dilemma of Prescribing for Pain

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 14, 2014 | Kenny Lin

I have complicated feelings about prescribing for chronic pain. On one hand, I recognize that relieving headaches, backaches, arthritis and nerve pain has been a core responsibility of the medical profession for ages. On the other hand, deaths and emergency room visits from overdoses of prescription painkillers have skyrocketed. I believe that addiction is a disease. So why do I find my patient's lies so hard to forgive?...

Who Chooses the Medicines You Get – Your Doctor or Your Insurance Plan?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 8, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A friend of mine suddenly learned the importance of patient engagement a few weeks ago when a matter affecting his pocketbook grabbed his attention. For the last several years the mantra has been "buy generics" as a way to lower the cost of drugs for consumers but also for the nation. For a while insurers did that. Not anymore...

The Harm to Patients From Two-Tiered Generic Drugs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 24, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

As we head into health insurance enrollment season, which opens in November, consumers/patients will face yet another challenge in selecting the best health plan...

From Wonder Drug to Medical Reversal

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 19, 2014 | John Schumann

One thing seems to be sure in medicine: if we just wait long enough for excellent science to guide us ahead, things we trust as ironclad rules often change. Case in point...

Seven Things You Can Do to Help Reduce Prescription Errors

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 4, 2014 | Margaret Polaneczky

I just got off the phone with a very upset patient who discovered that her pharmacy has been giving her the wrong medication for the past five months. Despite all our fancy technology and advances in health care, medication errors can and will occur. So what can you do, as a patient, to be sure that your prescriptions are correct?...

When Does a Patient Need to Be Seen?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 28, 2014 | Anne Polta

You need a refill for a prescription that's about to run out. You've taken the medication for years without any problems and can't think of any reason why the prescription can't just be automatically continued. But the doctor won't order a refill unless you make an appointment and come in to be seen. Is this an unfair burden on the patient or due diligence by the doctor?...

Beware Those 'Average' Premium Increases – or Decreases!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 24, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Never before have I seen such intense interest from the press about health insurance rates, normally considered a snoozer of a story. For the public, this may be a good thing. If the stories are done well, consumers might learn something about the mix of factors that go into determining the premiums they will pay. But in the last couple of weeks, some stories have been downright misleading...

Pushing Back Against the High Price of Prescriptions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 17, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Are we finally doing something about the high prices of prescription drugs? Maybe. At the end of May, the Washington-based National Coalition on Health Care launched "Sustainable Rx Pricing," a campaign to "spark a national dialogue" about the high cost of drugs. Will it work?

Stop Expecting Antibiotics to Be Handed Out Routinely: Here's Why

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 10, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

For years, my colleagues on the Prepared Patient site have preached the importance of being an advocate for your own care. And they've noted that at times it is necessary to push back against doctors' recommendations if a suggested treatment does not seem right. I just returned from a visit to the U.K., which drove home the importance of that advice...

A Doctor's Strategies Helped Mom Pay for Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2014 | Narine Wandrey

Bewildered, panicked and disheartened, I watched my mother's eyes dart back and forth as she read the pharmacy's prescription cash price list, knowing she could not possibly afford her monthly medicines. We drove home, not saying a word, but I knew she was deeply distraught. When we arrived, she began cutting each tiny elliptical or rounded tablet into halves and quarters...

Pendulum Swings Between Personalized Care and Fixes That Benefit All

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 14, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

"All patients are alike. This one complains about the same things that the last one did." "Every patient is unique. We can never find a way to make each one of them happy." This public health paradox is alive and well today, particularly when trying to improve outcomes attributable to patient engagement. The question is, what aspects of care need to be customized to individual needs and what can be delivered in a standardized fashion to all of us?

Medication Cocktails: Not Every Mix Is Safe

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 5, 2014 | CFAH Staff

One in every five older Americans takes medications that work against each other. And some interactions between prescription drugs and supplements can pose dangerous health risks. So what must we do to make sure that we benefit from the drugs we take?

My Partner, My Memory

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 15, 2014 | Barbara Kivowitz

I don't know if it's growing older, or New England winters, or the meds I take, or watching Homeland and Downton Abbey in the same week – but my memory isn't as crisp as it used to be. My partner, Richard, has become part of my cerebral cortex...

Co-Insurance for Medications: A Troubling Trend for Consumers

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 14, 2014 | Ali Khoshnevis

As the health care system changes in the coming years, one particular trend that will negatively impact consumers' out-of-pocket costs is the use of co-insurance (instead of a co-pay) for expensive specialty medications. Approximately 57 million Americans rely on these drugs to maintain their health, and it is disheartening to learn that many people are suffering because their medications have become too expensive...

Costs Complicated Dad's Cancer Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 31, 2014 | Laura Sander

"I walked in a person, and out a cancer patient," my dad said as we filed home. Crossing this threshold, we found ourselves on the other side of medicine – the side on the exam table or gurney, as opposed to the one standing over it. In time, it became clear we were running out of money...

Is a Daily Dose of Many Pills in Your Future?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 17, 2014 | Andrew Schorr

I recently had breakfast with an aging cousin, Walter, who has become infirm in his senior years. I knew he had several doctors and took medicine. It wasn't until breakfast time, however, that I realized how many medicines Walter took – and I was bowled over...

Common Bias Ignored: Patients and Families Lose

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

There's a pesky cognitive bias that creates a honking big barrier to patients and families making the most of the health advice and services available to us. It's the tendency of experts to overestimate the knowledge of others. Given my current, frequent brushes with health care, I experience this all the time: "Just go to the lab and ask them," I'm told by my chemo nurse. I think: Huh? What lab? Where? Ask who? The effects of health stakeholders' overestimation of our knowledge are profound...

Medication Adherence: Shift Focus From Patients to System

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 5, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

National conferences aimed at solving the problem of our wide-scale non-adherence to prescription medications feature expert reports about our misbehavior and bewail the huge number of us who fail to adhere to the ideal schedule. Then each conference gives plenty of airtime to more experts describing smart pill bottles, apps that nag at us, and how patient communities can provide important information about our drugs since our clinicians rarely do. Enough with blaming patients for our approach to taking our (many) medications...

Backlash Against Narrow Provider Networks Begins

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 18, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Seniors are starting to realize that fewer doctors and hospitals may be available to them if they select a Medicare Advantage plan. Restricting these choices – in theory – is a way to control the price of health care. There's just one problem: Consumers still want to choose their doctors or stick with the ones they've got...

Is Your Doctor Paying Attention?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 13, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

The $800 bottle of meds in my bathroom cabinet is a powerfully expensive reminder of my (former) family physician's lapse in attention – and my own lapse in catching her error. She'd somehow accidentally doubled both the dosage and the number of times per day to take these meds. How is this even possible? Somebody is not paying attention...

Why Low-Income Seniors Fail to Get Help Paying for Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 11, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A couple weeks ago, the Medicare Rights Center, a well-known New York-based advocacy group, released a report card showing that seniors on Medicare are struggling to pay for their health care. This finding brings up an important question: Why aren't seniors using the variety of state and federal programs that have been set up to help people in this situation?

Pills. Lotsa, Lotsa Pills.

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 31, 2014 | John Schumann

Ever get confused over the names of medicines? I do. There's Zantac. And Xanax. Zanaflex; Zaleplon. Every drug has (at least) two names – this is a recipe for disaster...

What Does It Take to Get 'Better Living Through Medications' These Days?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 15, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Why do so many of us continue to purchase pills that are not effective in causing weight loss, swallow syrups that promise to cure diabetes, and fiddle with our medication-taking regimens?...

Why Does Our Health Care Cost So Much?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 8, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

We know that the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world. But beyond noting that dubious achievement, we seldom ask why...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 4): How Much Will Health Care Services Cost?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 26, 2013 | CFAH Staff

In part four of our series, we look at a few ways to estimate the cost of your care ahead of time so you can make the best choice for you and your loved ones. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources offer trusted websites and tips to get started...

Paying for and Managing Your Medications

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 17, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

What people pay for medicine can vary widely. And a recent study found that 20% of Americans take five or more prescription medications. These 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help people pay for and manage their medications.

What Happens to the Other Half?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 17, 2013 | Paul Meyer

Only half of patients take the drugs as prescribed for them by their physicians. So what happens to the other half? And why does this costly problem continue despite efforts to improve patients’ adherence to prescription medications? There are many potential solutions, but not all of them are likely to become available...

Price Shopping Pharmacies Is the Key to Saving on Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 12, 2013 | Ali Khoshnevis

Sumanah was a 26-year-old event planner in New York City when she was suddenly diagnosed with congestive heart failure. After learning that some pharmacies can be upwards of 16 times more expensive than others, Sumanah was able to price shop for the right pharmacy and save a lot on her prescription costs. You can too...

Notes on Adherence: When Do I Feel Like a Patient?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 11, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

I'm always juggling more than one role, making second-to-second trade-offs depending on which is the most demanding at the moment. Becoming ill demands that we shift responsibilities around.

Patient Non-Adherence (Like Engagement) Is a Physician-Patient Communication Challenge – Not a Health Information Technology Challenge

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 23, 2013 | Stephen Wilkins

Have you noticed all the articles in the health care press lately touting health information technologies’ ability to increase patient medication adherence? Smart phone-based apps, Smart pill bottles and Patient Portals are all about trying to get patients to do something (take a medication) which some physician somewhere has deemed to be the right thing for the patient to do. Some would call this process of generating adherence patient engagement.

Rationing Medications

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 15, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

In America, the conventional wisdom is that we don't ration health care. But we do, and there's no better example than patients rationing themselves when it comes to the medicines they take.

Those Confusing EOBs…Once Again!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 27, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Let’s face it. Despite all the rhetoric about health care transparency, most health care providers really don’t want patients to know the price of their products and services.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 12, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

This week in health behavior news: Effects of deployment on those left behind | Commuting style linked to weight gain | Drugs for fibromyalgia may do more harm than good | Accidental poisonings leading cause of deaths at home

Getting a Prescription Refill: Hassles from My Health Plan

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 27, 2012 | Val Jones

In a recent post entitled “The Joys of Health Insurance Bureaucracy” I described how it took me (a physician) over three months to get one common prescription filled through my new health insurance plan. Of note, I have still been unable to enroll in the prescription refill mail order service that saves my insurer money and (ostensibly) enhances my convenience.

I'm Not Taking That Drug if it Makes Me Itch! More on Medication Adherence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 2, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

Our unwillingness to take our medicine as directed is often mistakenly viewed by clinicians and researchers as a sign that we are not engaged in our care. Baloney. Many of us would be perfectly happy to do so were it not for those pesky side effects.

Guest Blog: Adherence: The difference between what is, and what ought to be

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 16, 2012 | Scott Gavura

One of the most interesting aspects of working as a community-based pharmacist is the insight you gain into the actual effectiveness of the different health interventions.

Guest Blog: A Near Miss. A Good Pharmacist. A Serious Lesson.

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 8, 2011 | Herb Wells

Last week I went to the family pharmacy I use in New York City to pick up a new anti-arrhythmic drug that might slow down or even stop the atrial fibrillation I had experienced for the previous two weeks. The pharmacist came from behind his privacy wall to speak with me before dispensing the drug.

Guest Blog: What's All That Other Stuff In My Medicine?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 14, 2011 | Scott Gavura

The perception from many consumers (based on my personal experience) seems to be that products are inferior if they contain non-drug ingredients. By this measure, drug products are problematic...

The Whole Package: Improving Medication Adherence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 23, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are sold with instructions either on the package itself or in accompanying materials. Alas, research has shown that many people find this medication information confusing and thus do not take their medications correctly ' or at all. Can interventions like drug fact panels, reminder packaging and "integrated" health systems help solve the problem?

Guest Blog: Who's to Blame for Drug Shortages?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 6, 2011 | Scott Gavura

All the best efforts to practice science-based medicine are for naught when the optimal treatment is unavailable. And that's increasingly the case ' even for life-threatening illnesses. Shortages of prescription drugs, including cancer drugs, seem more frequent and more significant than at any time in the past.

Drug Labeling Inside the Box

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 20, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Reading those lengthy package inserts about the medicines you're taking is a bit like eating peas. You know they are good for you, but your gut says 'yuck.' So odds are you don't bother with all that teensy-tiny fine print, but just take the medicine and hope for the best.

Can New Tools Improve Medication Adherence?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 6, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Medication non-compliance is a pervasive problem resulting from a complex set of factors. Now, using publicly identifiable information, the credit-rating company FICO has developed a Medication Adherence Score that may help health plans identify those most at risk, and Geisinger Health Systems and CVS Caremark are conducting a study to assess whether enhanced doctor-pharmacist communication can help.

Turning 65: Finding a Prescription Drug Plan

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 23, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

If I were to choose a Medigap policy to supplement my basic Medicare coverage, I would still have to buy a separate plan for prescription drugs, since Medigap sellers can't include drug benefits in those policies.

Why Do People Stop Taking Their Cancer Meds?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2011 | David Harlow

David Harlow highlights recent research that finds that people stopped taking their cancer medications due to high costs and a burden from taking a number of prescription drugs broadening the picture of poor medication adherence.

No Magic Pill to Cure Poor Medication Adherence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 18, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

You are sick with something-or-other and your doctor writes you a prescription for a medication. She briefly tells you what it's for and how to take it. You go to the pharmacy, pick up the medication, go home and follow the instructions, right? I mean, how hard could it be? Pretty hard, it appears. Between 20 percent to 80 percent of us ' differing by disease and drug ' don't seem to be able to do it.

The Conversation Continues: Rx Side Effects

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 10, 2011 | CFAH Staff

Prepared Patient: Side Effects: When Silence Isn't Golden

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 3, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

'I had a wonderful gentleman patient who had resistant blood pressure,' recalls Vicki Koenig, M.D., a retired family doctor in Exmore, VA. 'When he came for a blood pressure check on the latest new med and it was great, I was ecstatic. Then he said, 'But I notice my urine's a little dark.' His was one of the first cases of fatal liver complications from this medication.' Medication side effects are common'but when should you speak up?

Those Clever Drug Companies, Again

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 27, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

If prizes were given for ingenious marketing, drug companies would win top honors. Like most businesses, they want to expand markets'that means getting you to buy more drugs whether you need them or not. Their appetite for finding new ways of doing that is insatiable.

Prepared Patient: Coping With the High Costs of Prescriptions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 31, 2010 | Health Behavior News Service

Cost-cutting measures are creeping into the medicine cabinet. We split pills in half or take the drugs every other day to stretch our doses. We stop filling the prescriptions for our most expensive drugs. We buy prescriptions from online pharmacies with questionable credentials. As patients pay more for their prescription drugs ' whether it's through higher insurance co-pays or shouldering the full costs ' many people decide to opt out of taking the drugs altogether. But there are safer ways to cut costs than skimping on ' or skipping 'the medicines you need.

The Squeeze of Mail-Order Drugs for People with Chronic Illness

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 12, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Do you have your prescriptions filled through a mail-order pharmacy? You are not alone.