Tips for managing your health

Coordinating care among different providers and tracking meds is key. Here’s how to get better organized

older woman looking at prescriptions

Managing your health is an exercise in education and organization, and it’s something that more than four in 10 Americans are dealing with. Though there’s a push for medical offices and institutions to better coordinate care with one another, right now it often falls squarely on the shoulders of the patient: you.

“There are lots of resources available on the internet to help you organize,” says Gail Gibson Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving. But remember: “You have to do what works for you. If you’re good with making a written list every day, then that’s fine.”

Here are four ways to make your life easier when managing your health.

Pick a favorite pharmacy and sign up for longer-term refills. “Usually it’s good to have all of your prescriptions filled in one place,” says Hunt. This can help you avoid dangerous drug interactions. It also allows you to get to know your pharmacist, who can answer questions about your medicines and conditions. See if your doctor can create your prescription electronically and send it straight over to the pharmacy. Nearly one-quarter of all prescriptions aren’t ever filled, which can’t happen if it’s filled automatically.

Another big tip: Sign up for 90-day supply of your refills. This can save you money and time spent making treks to the pharmacy. If there is a Walgreens in your area, you may be able to get a 90-day supply of your maintenance medication for the same cost share as mail order, which often reflects a discount. For more information on getting your maintenance medication prescription transferred to Walgreens, click here.

Save even more by shopping at Walgreens! Beginning January 2020, members will be mailed a smart savings discount card. Using the card, you’ll have a 20 percent discount on Walgreens brand health and wellness items, like vitamins and supplements; allergy, cold, and pain relief; and eye care, dental care, baby essentials, and more!

Use the patient website. If your doctor or hospital offers access to a patient site, put it to use! Most people with chronic conditions say that using their website to email their doctors helped them better manage their health care and led to better results. Use the site to ask follow-up questions between visits and request appointment changes, referrals, and prescription refills. With online tools, you fill out your health history online just once, and can then access it whenever you need to share information with doctors who aren’t in the same system.

Tap into an app. Research shows that up to half of Americans don’t take their medications as prescribed. One app that can help is Medisafe (medisafe.com), which was chosen by the caregiver site caring.com as one of the best caregiving apps of 2018. This free tool does more than alert you when you’re due for a dose. It also reminds you how to take it (for example, with food), provides info on your meds and conditions, and directs you to coupons and special offers.

Look into self-management education (SME). These are programs that cost about $50 and are designed to teach you how to manage your health conditions. Studies show that participating in an SME program can help you feel better and enjoy a better quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers links to SME programs in both English and Spanish. To learn more or find a program about a specific condition or managing multiple conditions, visit cdc.gov/learnmorefeelbetter and click on the SME programs button. You’ll see links to webpages for managing arthritis, diabetes, and many other chronic conditions. Or ask your doctor about local educational programs for patients.