Friday, November 4, 2011

How will you Script Your Future?

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of welcoming U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to Baltimore City’s Inner Harbor. The occasion was a press conference to announce Baltimore is one of several cities selected to participate in the multi-year national Script Your Future campaign.

While most Americans recognize the importance of taking prescribed medication as directed, people who skip or forget doses are less likely to understand the health consequences of medication non-adherence. Poor medication adherence has serious health consequences can impact patients’ quality of life and longevity, especially those who suffer from chronic conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes. Script Your Future aims to educate consumers and health care professionals about this danger.

Dr. Barbot poses US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.

It starts with a better understanding and awareness of the problem. There are many barriers and predictors of non-adherence. Nearly three out of four Americans admit that they do not always take their medication as directed, a problem that causes more than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations, nearly  125,000 deaths in the United States each year, and adds $290 billion in avoidable costs to the health care system annually.

One thing is clear – if we want more patients to take their medicine as directed, we need to get health care professionals and patients to talk to one another. Research shows that many patients with chronic conditions often have a poor understanding of their condition, how their prescribed medication works and the consequences of not taking it. And doctors and pharmacists often aren’t aware if their patients are taking their medicine or not.

When patients understand their condition and how medication helps them manage it, they are more likely to commit to taking their medicine. But that commitment needs to be a two-way street. Right now, conversations between patients and health care professionals aren’t happening nearly as often as they should. It’s often hard to find the time to have these conversations and, sadly, physicians are rarely taught how to best motivate patients to take their medicine as directed. But we have to take the time.

It really does start with a conversation.

I’m excited to be a part of the Script Your Future campaign in Baltimore because it provides tools and resources to help health care professionals and patients talk to each other, and it aids us in our mission for Healthy Baltimore 2015. One of our goals is to increase by 10 percent the number of adults with high blood pressure taking medications. Currently, only three out of four adult men diagnosed with high blood pressure report they are taking medicine for high blood pressure. Script Your Future contains many useful tools that can help our physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists be more effective in communicating with their patients and help their patients avoid the serious health consequences of not taking medication as directed.

To see a video of the press conference from WMAR Ch. 2 news, click here.

What have been some of the barriers you’ve had to overcome to take your medicines as prescribed? Do you use a pillbox? Do you keep a list of medicines with you at all times? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the campaign and subject.

Take Care, B’more!

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