March 2022
Making Prescription Medication Labels
Easier to Understand
In this issue:
  • Project update
  • Medication directions and adherence
  • Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit
Project update
Wisconsin Health Literacy is working on improving the use of clear and explicit medication directions on prescription medication labels. This includes adoption of Universal Medication Schedule (UMS) directions, which use 'morning', 'noon', 'evening', and 'bedtime' timings to prevent misinterpretation of when to take medication by patients.
We have met with key stakeholders at the following organizations in Wisconsin to improve the use of clear and explicit directions by prescribers:
  • Advocate Aurora
  • Bellin Health
  • Children's Wisconsin
  • Group Health Cooperative
  • Gundersen
  • SSM
  • UW Health
We are working to make sure prescribers and healthcare workers who provide medication information understand why clear directions are important and that health information technology supports this effort.
"A patient didn't realize that their insulin was dosed for morning and evening so the patient had only been receiving one dose for a month until the pharmacist contacted the patient to determine why they weren't filling their long-acting insulin enough. The directions were written to inject 12 units twice daily but the patient wasn't fully aware of the recent change as they had previously been on just once daily. Since the incident, more of our prescriptions are written using the UMS system."

Shared by a Wisconsin pharmacist. 
If you or someone you know would like to learn more or adopt UMS directions at your organization please email
Medication directions and adherence
Some pharmacies integrate a UMS pictogram (pictured on the right) onto labels. Once health system start adopting UMS directions as a standard, pharmacies will be able to more easily do this. This type of pictogram can help all patients, including those with language barriers, understand exactly when to take their medication.

Daily medication schedules and bubble packaging for medication often follow the UMS format too, so that patients can follow a simplified schedule and take their medication as intended.
Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit
Learn practical strategies and actionable takeaways to improve how medication and other health information is communicated at this year's Health Literacy Summit. Register here and visit our website for more information including speakers and sessions. Please share this information also!
This year's keynote speaker is Emma Andrews, PharmD who is Pfizer’s Vice President of Patient Advocacy, leading the organization’s work to embed the patient perspective across all Pfizer’s efforts from bench to bedside, and beyond.

A registered pharmacist, Emma is passionate about helping people live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

In her current role, Emma works with internal and external stakeholders to advance patient-focused programs across the enterprise. She is committed to reducing healthcare disparities, improving health literacy, and advancing health equity in all she does.
Funding is provided by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
In addition to the Medication Label Initiative, Wisconsin Health Literacy has a number of projects to improve both organizational and personal health literacy. Learn more about them or support them here:
Wisconsin Health Literacy | (608) 257-1655 |