10 Things That Make It Easier To Manage Our Health In The 21st Century

I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy to help spread the word about #BetterHealthMadeEasy, how to #FindYourHealthy and #DiscoverCVS. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.

I’ve been thinking about the marvelous tools we have at our fingertips, and right around the corner, to help make it easier for each of us to take charge of our own health.  When we become active participants in the healthcare process, we can make better-informed decisions about the best ways to stay fit and healthy.

1. HEALTH INFORMATION AT OUR FINGERTIPS

While the internet is sadly overrun with incorrect and misleading information about diseases and treatments, you can visit reliable websites like www.mayoclinic.org to find solid facts and advice to help you form appropriate questions to ask your doctors about your treatment. If your doctor doesn’t like you questioning him or her, find another doctor.

2.  AT-HOME DIAGNOSTICS

The field of home medical technology is booming, so we no longer have to rely on the doctor to take our critical measurements, from our blood pressure to the level of glucose in our blood. Besides, our blood pressure is never so accurate as when we calmly take it at home, upon awakening.  Even scales have become sophisticated devices that can compute our body fat, water makeup and muscle mass.

3.  HEALTH RECORDS AVAILABLE ONLINE

More and more doctors are joining  group practices associated with big medical institutions, which are using sophisticated software programs to input crucial information for us, from our test results and appointment reminders to messages from our doctors. These programs also make it easy to  compare numbers like LDL, HDL and triglycerides from one year to the next.

4.  FLU, PNEUMONIA AND SHINGLES SHOTS IN THE DRUGSTORE

What a pleasure it is to run into a CVS to get your annual flu shot, versus making a doctor’s appointment, then waiting forever in her office till your name is called.  And make sure to also get your pneumonia and shingles vaccinations at CVS, too!

5.  STAYING ON SCRIPT

The distinguished Mayo Clinic reported that over 50 percent of Americans take two prescription medications, and 20 percent at least five, so this increases the likelihood of taking the wrong dose, or even forgetting to take a medication at all. To address this growing issue, CVS Pharmacy has come up  with ScriptPath, an innovative  prescription management system.

ScriptPath Prescription Schedule, the highlight of the system, provides a personalized, prominent, complete and clear picture of a patient’s up-to-date CVS Pharmacy prescription information all on one document, including the name of the medications; the most effective times to take each of them (morning, midday, evening and bedtime); how much to take in each dose, as well simple refill instructions and personalized notes.  Colorful, easy-to-understand icons are designed to strengthen patients’ safety by simplifying how they take medications and how caregivers administer them.

The schedule is generated by an exclusive and robust scientific system that automatically reviews your current CVS Pharmacy prescription information and prescribers’ instructions, and then, using clinical data, provides a schedule of the most effective times of day to take the medications.

“Fifty percent of patients, especially those with complex prescription regimens, struggle to understand when to take their medications, said Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., CVS Health Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.  “The ScriptPath Prescription Schedule can help improve medication adherence (whether patients take their medications as prescribed, and whether they continue to take a prescribed medication), and, ultimately, health outcomes,” Troyen emphasized.

Medication non-adherence leads to 125,000 deaths and 10 to 20 percent of hospital and nursing home admissions each year, CVS reported.  Studies show that a third of patients don’t take their meds as prescribed, and almost 50 percent of patients with chronic conditions stop taking their meds within the first year of diagnosis. “Patients who take their medications as prescribed have better health outcomes than those who do not,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Pharmacy Services, CVS Pharmacy.

ScriptPath Prescription Schedule now is available on request at over 9,700 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide, and the system, along with a pharmacist consultation, will automatically be offered to the approximate nine million CVS Pharmacy patients who take at least five medications a day.

6.  WALK-IN CLINICS, ESPECIALLY ON THE WEEKENDS

When I felt extremely weak and feverish on a long holiday weekend a few years ago, I couldn’t wait to see the internist, so I ran into an urgent care clinic, where they took an xray of my lungs and diagnosed pneumonia. They prescribed an antibiotic. I felt better within 24 hours. Had I waited even a couple of days,the pneumonia might very well have worsened, and I would have had to be hospitalized!

7.  24-HOURS DRUG STORES

When my friend thought his blood pressure was rising precipitously because of the the new medication he was taking, his doctor told him to either go to the ER or to a drugstore with a
blood pressure machine. It was close to midnight on a Saturday, and we certainly preferred the latter, so we Googled and found a 24-hour CVS where we could take his pressure.  And away we went. The measurement helped his doctor determine whether she needed to prescribe a blood pressure medication as soon as possible.

8.  SHARING HEALTH INFORMATION WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

A woman who is undergoing rigorous breast cancer treatments, and lives alone, often reaches out on Facebook to ask friends for help with transportation and emotional support. Another woman, about to undergo hip replacement surgery, publishes a post asking if anyone has had this kind of operation.  A third woman, laid up in bed with a bad case of the flu, asks for advice about what she can do to help her feel better. We may not be delighted with the downsides of Facebook, but the upsides are mighty appealing.

9.  EXERCISING IN YOUR OWN HOME

Getting to a gym can be a hassle, to say the least. But now we can work out in the comforts of our own homes, and we don’t have to hire trainers or buy expensive equipment that will
end up collecting dust. Easy-to-follow fitness apps, for all levels of experience and all kinds of needs, can be downloaded right on your phone and involve little more than some weights, exercise ball and kettlebell.

10.  GETTING BACKGROUNDS ON HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

Doctor recommendations from friends and family may be fine, but now that we can check a healthcare provider’s background and experience online, go for it. Where did she or he attend medical school? Where did he do his training?  What is her expertise as it relates to your specific health issue? Not everyone who goes to Harvard Medical School becomes a brilliant doctor, but if he also did his residency at world-renowned Mass General, and has been doing hip replacements there for 20 years, it’s a pretty good bet he’s a mighty fine hip surgeon.