Why Does Medication Adherence Matter?

Published July 28th, 2016 by USA Rx
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley

Why Does Medication Adherence Matter?“Medication adherence” is a fancy term that refers to whether or not a patient is taking his or her medications as prescribed. There are plenty of reasons why this doesn’t always happen: a patient may think the medication is unnecessary or may not believe his or her illness needs treating, a patient may not think the medication’s side effects are worth its benefits, or a patient may simply forget to take them on schedule or forget them entirely in the back of his or her medicine cabinet.

However it happens, it’s estimated that patients only take a quarter of all prescriptions written worldwide as directed, and even fewer refill their prescriptions as directed. The World Health Organization also estimates that 125,000 people die each year because of this. To improve the adherence rate, they’ve come up with several different programs:


Overworked doctors often don’t have the time to discuss all the ins and outs of diseases and medications with their patients, so it can help to provide pamphlets and other easy-to-read literature with all the details either at the doctor’s office or at the pharmacy. This information may be critical to medication adherence, since patients might not know why they should keep taking an antibacterial drug even after the symptoms disappear.

Mobile Device Reminders

More and more people are carrying smartphones and other mobile devices around with them wherever they go, so it makes sense to set up an automated system which can remind patients to take their medications on schedule. Newer systems can even adapt to a patient’s needs and input in order to provide personalized messages and improve medication adherence further.

Pharmacist Consultations

Discussing the benefits and drawbacks of medication is usually a physician’s job, and pharmacists need special training in order to offer this discussion, but at the same time they can usually spare the two minutes it takes to explain how and why to take a given medication. One experiment performed by Walgreens saw the adherence rate greatly improve for a cholesterol-lowering drug when pharmacists discussed the drug with patients first.

Of course, there is one other reason why many people choose not to take their prescriptions: the price. Reminders and information can’t help with this problem, but the USA Rx pharmacy discount card can: our card offers up to 75 percent discounts on all kinds of prescription drugs, and over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide accept it. You can get a card for free by giving us your name and an email address, and you’re under no obligation to use it if you can get a prescription cheaper through your insurance. To learn more, you can send an email to [email protected] or call us at 888-277-3911.

Put drug prices & coupons in your pocket!

We'll text you a link to download our free Android or iPhone app