By the Numbers: The Challenge of Complex Medication Management

For the nearly half of adults in the U.S. with a chronic condition,1 prescription medication is one of the most common medication interventions. Unfortunately, with different dosing schedules, potential interactions, instructions, and side effects to track, it isn’t always easy to take medications as prescribed. 

As U.S. health care costs continue to rise, ensuring that patients are adherent to their medications is more important than ever before. That’s why helping individuals who are struggling with adherence is one of the core components of a pharmacist’s role

To better understand what people find most difficult about managing their medications and what might make it easier, we conducted a national poll of 2,041 adults who either have a chronic condition or are taking five or more prescription medications. The results shed light on what types of future pharmacy offerings and programs may help patients most.

Medication Management is a Challenge – Especially Sticking to a Dosing Schedule

Overall, keeping to a dosing schedule is by far the most common challenge for those juggling multiple medications. Sixty-nine percent of respondents say they find this to be a challenge, and 39 percent say it is the most challenging part about managing their medications.

Other common concerns include refilling prescriptions on time (54 percent) and understanding and avoiding drug interactions (47 percent). Additionally, four in 10 people find it challenging to understand when and how to take medications.

Patients See Promise in Tools that Add Convenience and Clarity

Two-thirds of respondents said phone, text or email reminders to take, refill and/or renew prescriptions would be helpful in addressing their medication management challenges. And 61 percent reported that a personalized daily schedule with clear instructions for when, and at what dose, to take medications would be helpful.

Pharmacists Can Help Make Managing Medications Easier and Less Stressful

As an accessible point of care in local communities, pharmacists can help patients get the care they need when they need it, addressing questions to help patients better understand their medications and conditions. In fact, 85 percent of respondents say they feel comfortable asking their pharmacist questions about their medications.

Pharmacists are trained to provide several services, including medication counseling, medication therapy management, and providing strategies to help patients stay on track with their medications to help improve health outcomes.

Recognizing that managing multiple medications can be difficult, CVS Health introduced ScriptPath Prescription Schedule to help patients with multiple medications keep track of all of their prescription information in one place, including which medications the patient takes, when the patient should take them, and how much of each medication should be taken in each dose.

CVS Health offers a wide range of other pharmacy services and digital pharmacy tools, making it easier for patients to refill prescriptions and take their medications on time to promote medication adherence and better health outcomes.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve pharmacy care, visit our Health Care Innovation & Delivery information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Chronic Disease Overview.” Accessed August 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm