I’ve been focusing a lot lately on a vision for the future of pharmacy and how we can elevate our status in the health care realm. I do believe that you can’t achieve direction without vision and you can’t reach goals without an underlying principled foundation. However, I also understand that high-minded ideals and a lot rah-rah talk aren’t enough to get the job done alone. Trying to stay true to my mantra of “real life pharmacy, real life pharmacist,” I’d to give a few examples I’ve encountered of “keeping it real.”
Saving our patients’ money.
I have a couple tales related to CMRs. In the first story, a gentleman was on a certain ARB that had a co-pay of $80. I thought this was a bit much so I simply asked if he had thought about switching to another ARB. His reply was something along the lines of he hadn’t thought about it, because he had been on that particular brand for so long. I contacted his physician and suggested the change. Without hesitation the doctor agreed and my patient then had a $5 co-pay. That saved this retired gentleman on a fixed income $900 a year. Perhaps more significantly, this change can potentially keep him from reaching the donut hole this year.
A second story I can relate involved a lady who was taking two different nebulizer treatments. The co-payments weren’t really that expensive for either (one was about $12 and the other was $5.) Nonetheless I made the recommendation to change to the combination product. This saved her $9 per month, which is $72 per year. Sure, that’s not that much, but it is a meal for someone on a fixed income. More importantly, it saved her time. Which leads me to my next point…
Save our patients’ time.
Time is money. It’s an old adage, but it’s true. One of my patient’s had a daughter who would come in my pharmacy every Saturday to pick up some of her medication. It was like clockwork. The mother was not able to administer her medication herself so her daughter would fill the prescriptions and then leave them for her caregivers. Every weekend. Rather than just keep going with status quo, we recommended a medication synchronization schedule. After reaching out to her physician we were able to get all of the patient’s medication filled on one day, saving unnecessary trips for her caregivers to the pharmacy and potentially saving the patient unnecessary trips to the doctor. Yes, we are in a service business at some level and convenience is certainly something we should help provide. That’s adding value to pharmacy! People naturally gravitate toward businesses and services who “go the extra mile.” Which brings me to my third point….
Treating patients like people.
I have too many stories for this. As I’m sure all of us do. But I’d like to relate one that has always stuck with me. Another daughter who was the primary caregiver for her elderly mother engaged me with issues she was having regarding her mother’s medication and general care. I was able to counsel her and together we developed a better regimen for her medicinal therapy and overall home treatment. As a result of the relationship, she transferred her own family’s prescriptions to my pharmacy. At some point, I noticed that she was a smoker. I engaged her about cessation treatments and she told me that she didn’t have a lot of disposable income or insurance that covered cessation treatment. I suggested that she apply to our state-funded tobacco cessation trust. She did and was able to fill an oral NRT product at our pharmacy. Yes, she quit. We were able to provide her medication and now she’s a healthier woman. I still get to chat with her about her kids (they’re going away to college now) and mom’s healthy as well. She always thanked me for going out of my way for helping her family. Really, I was just doing my job. That should be what’s expected from us.
That’s what keeps us coming back to the counter every day. Seeing a better strategy for medicinal treatment, helping to save our patients time, and taking the effort to reach out to them on a human level. That is real life pharmacy.
I know we all have stories. We should share them. Tweet yours using #RealLifePharmD. I look forward to hearing how you’re helping patients and adding value to the profession.