The hidden costs of forgetting to take your meds

We’ve written a lot here about the dangers of taking drugs without a prescription, of doctor shopping, of accidental overdoses and unanticipated drug interactions, and of forgoing needed medications to save money. But one thing we haven’t written about is medication non-adherence — the problem of people simply forgetting to take their meds.

It’s a more widespread, and serious, issue than you might have imagined. According to Intelecare, one out of every two patients fails to follow physician instructions. When patients are asked why, 84 percent cite forgetfulness as the main reason for their non-adherence.

And check out these numbers:

  • 1 out of 8 heart attack patients stops taking life-saving drugs after just 1 month
  • 31 percent of all prescriptions are not filled the first time
  • 15 percent of all hospital visits ($47 billion/annually) are due to medication non-adherence
  • 125,000 deaths annually are the result of non-adherence
  • Up to 60 percent of patients cannot correctly report what their physicians expected of them 10 to 80 minutes after they were provided with the information
  • Non-adherence costs the healthcare system over $300 billion annually

Intelecare offers a personal pill medication reminder service that helps ensure healthcare consumers take their medications as prescribed. The service has more than three million subscribers.

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If you have problems remembering to take your meds, or you’re a caregiver of someone who forgets to take their meds, Intelecare may be the solution for you. You can learn more here.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs. - Search. Compare. Save.

0 thoughts on “The hidden costs of forgetting to take your meds

  • Thanks for the post and the link Cary. The stats are interesting and bring up two further points that require further debate and forward progress:
    1. the whole idea of putting more onus on the patients for their own care… there seems to be a general lack of responsibility among a certain segment that continues to befuddle caregivers.
    2. More and more we will see mobile devices (iPhone, BlackBerry, etc) being leveraged to assist patients in the same manner that Intelecare is doing here but with even more caregiver/patient interaction… I am talking more than just notification. The technology is there so it is just a matter of connecting patients and families and the caregiving team in a more collaborative and real time fashion. Maybe I will post something over at the mobile strategy blog ( on this topic.

    Thanks for pushing the conversation forward.

  • Thank you for the posts and the Link Cary .I really appreciate the information on Precription Drugs and over the counter Drugs.The lengths you go to ,for just wanting to help people he may not know about Allergic reations and talking with thier Doctoers and Family about thier meds amazing work .I actually have sent your website to some friends that could use your help.I myself Learned more about Meds then before .The stats of research is amazing .I am Looking forward to hearing more from you .God Bless Debra

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