Convenience has become a cornerstone of our lives. Entire industries have been built on our desire for more convenience. Why spend hours cooking a meal when you can eat out? Why wait for your food at a sit-down restaurant when you can just grab fast food? Why go out to get fast food when you can have it delivered straight to your house? And that’s just food. (What does this have to do with patient-centered care? We’re getting there.)
We’re always looking for ways to save time. So why wouldn’t filling prescriptions be any different?
Independent pharmacies have long felt the sting of the big box stores. Most of the advantages they offer are centered around convenience. They’re around every corner. They’re often able to offer drugs and other goods at lower prices. With online offerings like Amazon’s PillPack, you can order them and have them delivered to your door without ever stepping out of the house. How can independent pharmacies compete with that?
The answer is by focusing on their strengths. What can independent pharmacies offer that the mega chain drugstores simply can’t?
Putting the Patient Before the Prescription: How Independent Pharmacies Can Face Off Against Mega-Chains — and Win
When it comes to something as important as medication, trust is the differentiator. Trust trumps convenience every time. Patient-centered care sets independent pharmacies apart from the big box stores. To you, your patients are more than just a name on a pill bottle — and they need to know that. Here are a few ways you can show them:
Don’t Talk TO Your Patients; Engage WITH Them
No lectures. Advising your patients on their medication should be a discussion, not a simple series of instructions. Discuss their daily habits and how their medication regimen can fit in. Make sure to cover all the basics, such as which meds can be taken with meals and which cannot. Collaborate with your patients on a plan; if they work with you and contribute, they’re more likely to follow it.
Connect to Your Patients’ Providers & Form Relationships
Treating your patient means forming and working from a comprehensive view of their care. Speaking with your patients’ physicians and involving them beyond the initial office visit ensures that your patients get the most thorough care possible. Also, working together with your patient’s physician increases your importance in your patient’s care team. Instead of simply dispensing meds, you’ll be ensuring that your patients are adhering to their medication plan. You are also in a position to monitor your patient’s progress, then work directly with the prescribing physician to make any needed adjustments. Working side-by-side with your patient’s physician for better outcomes is the true definition of patient-centered care.
Don’t Be Afraid To Show Empathy
Not everyone who walks through your doors is happy to be there. Some are new to the conditions that bring them to your counter. Some have just received a diagnosis that will change the course of their life. Others may be coming to purchase medication that they know they can’t afford. As a pharmacist, you regrettably often see people at their worst. Remembering to put your patient first can help them through a difficult time. Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you’re stressed. But you can be the glimmer of hope that someone needs with a kind word and a smile.
Give Them Knowledge They Can’t Get Anywhere Else
These days, patients rarely walk into a pharmacy without having done a little research. They’ve researched their symptoms, they’ve double-checked their physicians, and they’ve found every worst-case-scenario on the internet in the time between their appointment and picking up their meds. Set their minds at ease by telling them what Google can’t. Be honest about their symptoms and how their medication will help. Go over the potential side effects, and advise patients on how they can minimize them.
A pharmacy isn’t just another store. It’s a business that people regularly trust to help make their lives better. And while some people appreciate the idea of being able to pick up their prescriptions while they’re shopping for socks, many prefer the personal experience and familiarity of the corner drugstore. Once you’ve had that experience, it’s not hard to see why. Trust trumps convenience every time.