Pandemic derailing greater number of patients from taking prescribed medications


One side effect of the pandemic: more people than ever have gotten off-track taking their regular, prescribed medicines.

Doctors and pharmacists agree that not taking medicines you’ve been prescribed to manage your health is hazardous and potentially deadly.

“It is absolutely critical. Sources tell us that up to 50-percent of people on chronic medications are not taking them. And the consequences are very costly,” said Heidi Polek, a pharmacist and strategic program manager for DrFirst. 

Polek points out how prescribed medications often prevent problems, some of them very serious that often don’t give off physical stressors to signal the body is in danger.

“I don’t feel high cholesterol.  I don’t necessarily feel high blood pressure. Sometimes, I don’t even feel high blood sugar. All things that if left untreated can have long-term consequences,” Polek said.

Polek says DrFirst has a high-tech prescription to help keep patients on-track with  medications.

“Pharmacists can use this technology to send secure text messages to remind patients to stay on their medications, to come pick them up. They can share clinical information with them around the importance of staying on medications,” Polek said. “We can offer cost-savings information and tools for patients. Everything that gets in the way of patients taking their medications, we can handle through this secure communication.”

And if you’re not current on technology, don’t worry. Polek says even the least tech-savvy patients can easily make use of this innovation.

“Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they use our secure messaging tool and ask them to send you a message. All you need is a link. You just keep this hyperlink on your phone or in your email, and you just have to re-use it over and over again,” Polek said. “It’s unnecessary to download an app because we recognize how confusing it can be for a lot of people.”

DrFirst estimates 125,000 people die each year simply because they do not stay on their regularly prescribed medications.

Lack of adherence to prescriptions also accounts for an estimated 10-percent of hospitalizations  and racks up between $100 – $289 billion per year in medical expenses.

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