Skip to main content

Medication Label Initiative Tackles Systems Change

Studies show that more than 1/3 of U.S adults have only a basic level of health literacy. Due to this, 50% of medications are taken incorrectly, causing unnecessary post-discharge complications, hospitalizations, and even death.

Over the past seven years, Wisconsin Health Literacy (WHL) and partners have been successfully working with pharmacies to redesign prescription labels using evidence-based standards. 

The result has been increased patient understanding, decreased medical dosing errors, and reduced health disparities. In phase 2 and 3 of our Medication Label Initiative, over 21% of Wisconsin pharmacies adopted a patient centered label (view the list) .

However, due to software and other limitations, a vital gap remains in improving the directions for use on prescriptions. Thanks to Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment, we will tackle the heart of label misinterpretation – the directions for use – in phase 4 of this initiative. 

WHL and project partners will work with Wisconsin health systems to adopt changes in the electronic health record software that will make the use of evidence-based prescription labels and directions for use the default choice for prescribers. 

The impacts of this initiative will reach beyond Wisconsin to the U.S. and around the world. Thank you to our partners - Epic Systems, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Hospital Association, Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora Health Care, UW Health, UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, and Emory University – who continue to be instrumental in this health systems change.

For more information on this initiative, go to