The Pharmacist from Whoville

WHO’s your pharmacist? (Not where is your pharmacy…)

The questions are always the same.

  1. Name?
  2. Date of birth?
  3. Which pharmacy do you use?

When people discuss other aspects of the healthcare universe it sounds like the phone book from a Dr. Seuss story: Who’s your endocrinologist? Who’s your cardiologist? Who is handling the procedure? Who are you seeing for rehab?

Can we pharmacists get a who?

Truth be told, it’s our own fault nobody gives a who. At the very least we haven’t helped ourselves very much. For a long time now we have been content to earn our salaries and be relegated to being highly educated vending machines. We have allowed the most accessible and in many instances more engaged touch point of the healthcare process to become commoditized. I know… there are a lot of us who have been actively trying to keep that from happening. Regardless, that is where perception has gone. And we all know perception is reality.

So how do we change that reality?  How do we get our who back? I think the answer is threefold:

  1. Patient Outreach
  2. Provider Status
  3. Collaboration

“A patient needs to know you care so they can TRUST in your care.”

First … Plain and simple know your patients. I’ve seen a lot of “know your pharmacist”. Yes! But it’s not a one way street. We have to (literally) practice what we preach. We have to know our patients. When someone walks in and you do not know his or her name …ASK! Introduce yourself. Pick your head up and smile. A patient needs to know you care so they can TRUST in your care. Why would he or she want to sit and review medications if they feel you are only doing it because you are required to? Bedside manner is taught in med school. If we’re going to take the mantle of “doctor,” why should be exempt from this? Patients are suffering just the same when they get their medication filled as when they’re in a physician’s office, correct? I stress we are most accessible community healthcare provider. Showing compassion and concern for your patients is the only way to uphold the value and the respect of the profession. That’s the whole customer to patient issue. If we want perception to change in regard to us, we need to change our perception in regard to them. Ask yourself, what do you say more often, “that customer always comes in ,” or “that patient is a regular visitor”?

“Outcomes = Value = Reimbursement = Sustainability”

Second … Provider status is upon us. Do you have your NPI number? Get it. Next decide where you want to practice. Are you going to use your provider status to simply bill what you have to get by?  Had an interesting call today with Creative Pharmacistrethink MTM was the subject of the call. David Pope discussed difference between “push” and “pull” claims. Are you satisfied only looking at recommendations given to you from Mirixa and Outcomes to potentially keep your contracts with the big insurance guys or are you genuinely concerned for your patients health? Hopefully it’s the latter. In that case during a CMR you should be able to address problems the patient is having and guess what…you can create your own claim and get PAID for it. Outcomes = Value = Reimbursement = Sustainability

Finally… We will not get to this point on our own. We can’t. It’s not beneficial for anyone. Healthcare is a team effort. We must start the dialogue. Consider this “how” to get to the “who.”

  • Call or email the local clinic and set up and appointment with the physician or nurse practitioner or even the office manager. Start the conversation. I have heard from many colleagues that prescribers aren’t accepting recommendations or even welcoming it. Maybe it’s because they have no idea what we are doing. Face to face is most effective with CMRs. The same theory is true for collaborative practice.
  • Work on the rapport with your nursing staffs. They will in turn lean on you for advice and even start referring people to your pharmacy. You will notice a difference in your phone calls to these offices.
  • I propose this with hospitals as well. Proven results come from a pharmacist reconciling medications in the emergency room. That needs to continue to transitions of care. When they leave the hospital the question that should be answered is “who’s your pharmacist?”

“Be a guide, an educator, a respected healthcare provider.”

These are simple steps to getting the profession heading in the right direction.  Who’s your pharmacist? Take charge of your patients. Take care of them. Take responsibility. Be a guide, an educator, a respected healthcare provider. We say that’s what we want. Lets do it. If not let’s continue to count, put labels on bottles, sit on our stools, and complain about how cost of generics are increasing and reimbursements are decreasing. Yes it’s important. Yes I want to continue to be proud to say I’m a pharmacist. And most importantly, I want my patients to be proud I’m their pharmacist. I’m their who!

And what happens next? In Whoville they say, the hearts of the pharmacists grew three sizes that day! Why? Pharmacy, we said, isn’t just in a store. Pharmacy means a little bit more.

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