A Conversation You Haven't Had with Your Doctor...But Should

Written by: Mary Sorber. Posted: December 05, 2014. 


Drug company advertisements often end with the phrase “Ask your Doctor about…” followed by the newest drug being promoted. While surely they mean to ask if the new drug is right for you to start taking, I suggest a different question to ask your Doctor:

“Of all the drugs prescribed for me, which one is most important for me to take correctly?”

If you, or a person you care for, are struggling to manage a complicated drug regime, you may unknowingly be prioritizing a less important drug over one more critical to your overall health. If you are struggling to take all the medications as prescribed, talk to your doctor about breaking the regime into smaller parts and focusing your energy first on the most important drug or drugs. In the big picture of things, your heart medicine may be much more important than the anti-fungal used to combat toe fungus, so you should focus first on taking your heart medication as prescribed.

Do you know your most important condition and which drug(s) you are taking for it? And the next most important condition? And the one after that? Or do you know which medication is the least likely to have a negative impact if not focused on in the near term? If you don’t know the answers to these questions then ask your doctor.

You should have the conversation with a General Practitioner, or someone who looks at your situation as a whole and knows the full extent of your drug regime. It’s a good idea to bring your list of medications with you.

Your goal is to get a priority order list of medications given current conditions so you can develop good habits around the most important medications first and then build from there. I’ve blogged elsewhere about habit formation, but at a high level it’s about building upon success.

Let’s take the case of Adele to illustrate what I’m talking about. She takes 10 medications 4 different times throughout the day. Currently she is having trouble remembering to take her diabetes meds which results in elevated daily blood sugar numbers. She is also having trouble remembering to take her multivitamin, calcium, and fish oil, but they are not currently as important in the overall picture. So attention and habit formation for Adele should focus on taking her diabetes medication.

Adele always remembers her morning medications, but sometimes misses the evening dose. She should ask her doctor if she can take her most important medication for her diabetes in the morning when it is less likely to be missed.

Breaking your whole medication regime into parts may be a good first step to building a sustained medication-taking habit. Knowing where to start to have the best impact on your health is key. Ask your doctor about how to prioritize your medications on your next visit.

In Health,


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Key words: 
Medication management, healthy habits

Last Updated: May 13, 2020.

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