Author: Mark Allen, PharmD
The old saying rings true: Medication only works if you take it. It is hard for your medication to work if it stays in the bottle. Taking medication effectively involves collaboration between the physician, the pharmacist and the patient; one that can work beautifully as it is the start of better health, a healthier and happier patient.
Adherence is a major concern in the health care industry; not doing it not only keeps patients from getting healthier, it costs billions of dollars each year. The question, then, is how to make adherence a more natural and collaborative portion of health care for the patient.
Taking drops may seem unscientific and unmeasured, yet science and accuracy is vital in the sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drop, delivery system. We advocate using a dropper and bottle system that is calibrated to deliver an exact amount, a metered dose, of the prescribed antigens so each pump dose contains the prescribed dose for each patient. Custom dosing provides the best sublingual immunotherapy allergy treatment for each patient and takes the worry and guesswork out of the equation for patients.
As with any medication, allergy drops need to be taken at prescribed intervals, daily for a prescribed length of time. These three points may sometimes be overwhelming for any patient. We strive to meet patients where they are most comfortable in taking their drops and being adherent, helping providers work with their patients to find a routine that makes it easy to remember to stay with treatment. Our patients become the greatest advocates of unique reminders for drop taking, which increases their personal adherence and leads to more effective treatment.
Here is a short list of some of our favorite patient reminders to take allergy drops:
- Keep allergy drop bottles in the kitchen and take them before every meal
- Put three bracelets or rubber bands on your left wrist; move a bracelet to your right wrist every time you take your drops
- Keep your drop bottles by your tooth brush and take your drops after you brush your teeth
- Attach a reminder via a post it note on your bathroom mirror
- Set a smart phone timer, or use one of the many free medication apps that are available to help jog your memory
- Use a drop diary to mark off doses as you take them – we provide one with every prescription for patients to log doses and share the diary with their doctor at checkups
- Keep your drops next to the calendar and make a small mark daily after taking your drops
The other key to good adherence is keeping current on prescription refills. Prescriptions that are refilled on time (before your current prescription is empty) give the pharmacist and prescribing physician a general indicator of patient adherence. With electronic medical records and refill information readily available, the EMR helps the physician and pharmacist aim their conversations with the patient to better understanding the patient adherence to the prescribed drop therapy. If a patient isn’t refilling in a timely manner, finding out why can point out issues about treatment or lifestyle issues that can impact how well treatment is working, and can help providers better understand and address any problems a patient might be having.
The team approach with the physician, pharmacist, and patient working together can improve adherence and create stronger relationships and better communication, resulting in healthier and happier patients.