As a healthcare provider (HCP), you know that it’s important that your patients understand the benefits, potential risks and other key information to help promote safe and appropriate medicine use. Your communications approach can help clarify patients’ concerns and questions about taking certain medications when prescribed or recommended as part of a treatment regimen.


Nearly half of Americans take a prescription medicine, and over 20% take at least three. Yet new research shows that approximately 62% of patients are not aware of any safety warnings about their prescription medicines, and 10% of patients, unaware of possible severe reactions to or side effects of the medicines they are taking, actually experience a serious drug reaction. Along with other data, these findings underscore the need to stimulate effective conversations about prescriptions with your patients.


As an HCP, it’s a given that one of your goals is to establish strong working relationships and effective communication with your patients, who turn to you first when they have questions about their health. The following facts and tips are designed to stimulate conversations about prescription medicines.



According to BeMedWise’s Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors Concerning Risk and Safety Information of Medicines: A Survey of Consumers/Patients and HCPs in the US:


  • Approximately 62% of patients and caregivers are not aware of any safety warnings about their medicines.
  • Only 38% of patients and caregivers report being aware of safety warnings, and of those who report being aware of a warning, the majority (75%) do not recall which medicine it is for or what the warning is about.
  • 10% of patients who are unaware of the possibility of a severe reaction or side effect to any of the medicines they are taking, experience a serious drug reaction.
  • While 85% of HCPs report that their patients adhere to their treatment plans, only 56% of patients report high to very high adherence.
  • HCPs believe that patients and caregivers do not ask enough questions, nor do they take notes or fully understand the risks associated with taking medicines. In spite of these factors, HCPs believe they establish good working relationships with their patients.
  • Most consumers prefer both written and verbal communication about drug safety when visiting the HCP (50%) or while filling prescriptions at a pharmacy (48%).
  • Over half of consumers (58%) prefer HCPs to verbally describe the risks associated with medicines.i



Talking Points

These facts shed new light on how important HCP/patient communication is to medicine adherence improvement and a balanced discussion of a prescription medicine’s benefits and potential risks, opening the door to more productive conversations. While you are probably incorporating most if not all of the following tips, they will remind you that, “you don’t know what your patients don’t know!”


  1. Remember that your patients might have questions once they walk out the door.
  2. Reassure your patients that there are no silly questions.
  3. Insist that your patients read and follow the directions on the medicine label.
  4. Urge your patients to take a family member or friend to doctors’ appointments to take notes and ask questions.
  5. When your patients pick up their medications, encourage them to talk to the pharmacist if they have questions. It’s also a good idea for your patients to review their medications with the pharmacist.


Interested in improving your patient conversations? Check out these ready-to-use tools. Learn more about the Talk Before You Take Campaign.


i Ipsos Healthcare. “Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors Concerning Risk and Safety Information of Medicines: A Survey of Consumers/Patients and HCPs in the U.S.” An Internal Report (supported by FDA CDER Grant number 5U18FD004653). 2013. Washington, DC.


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