Medicines can lead to life-changing health outcomes for patients, but only if several actions occur including: appropriate and timely diagnosis and prescribing, prompt initiation of therapy, adherence to prescribed medicines (i.e., patients must take the medicines as prescribed at the right dose and right time), and periodic reviews and updates of the medication regimen.

All of these dimensions are key to achieving better health outcomes, particularly for patients with chronic diseases. For example:

Preventing Hospitalizations: Poor medication adherence is associated with increased hospitalizations, nursing home admissions, and physician visits. For instance, research demonstrates that patients who did not consistently take their diabetes medicine were 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than were patients who took their medicine as directed more than 80 percent of the time.

Preventing Disease: Non-adherent patients were 7 percent, 13 percent and 42 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and chronic heart failure, respectively, over three years than were patients who took antihypertension medicine as directed.

Preventing Adverse Events: Providing counseling to patients to clarify their medication regimen following hospital discharge can dramatically reduce the likelihood of adverse drug events.

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