I’ve been pretty lucky in my life when it comes to my health. I haven’t really had any major issues to deal with that would make me have to spend a lot of time in the doctor’s office. Aside from a very random illness here or there, and a few hernia operations, because I stay fit, eat right and exercise, I just don’t have to go.
But I understand that I am in the minority. Whether it is serious issues, smaller things that pop up often, or just not being in good health, I know that for many of you, you’re spending a lot of time in your health care provider’s office. And the majority of that time is spent waiting.
Now that is not an insult to the highly trained individuals who take care of us, but just a simple observation. In fact, this trend is projected to get worse before it gets better. With primary care physicians in short supply, doctors’ schedules overloaded and about 30 million people scheduled to enter the health care system by 2014, patients may start to feel even more neglected.
However, in a report recently published by FoxBusiness.com, experts say there is another option some people overlook. Patients need to rely more on the skills and expertise of their pharmacists, and that their pharmacist “should be viewed as a reliable go-to professional for education and information, not only on their prescription drugs, but their health in general.”
By having more time to spend with their patients, pharmacists are enhancing access, improving outcomes and integrating care for their patients, becoming an important member of their health care team. Pharmacists are giving patients the time that physicians are no longer in a position to give. According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, pharmacists “are making life easier for patients, and providing health care on the patient’s terms.”
Like with their physicians, many patients feel the loyalty to their pharmacist is well-earned and count on the pair to ease their concerns when adding new medications. Research has shown that patients feel a pharmacist’s thorough explanation of what they can expect in treatment and improvements along with any potential drug side effects are main reasons they stay loyal.
This relationship also helps the patient control costs. In that same study by the NACDS, it found that “medication adherence is a priority for not only improving outcomes but containing individual and system costs.” Overspending, resulting from poor medication adherence, is approximately $290 billion per year. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota found that the help of a pharmacist through Medication Therapy Management patients found reductions in health-care costs of 31.5 percent per person.
Here are some tips to maximize the relationship you have with your pharmacist.
— Ask questions. Any time you’re prescribed a new drug, discuss expected outcomes, including potential side effects and how to manage them.
— Review all your medications with your pharmacist. Be sure to identify all the drugs, vitamins and other remedies you are on.
— Close the physician-pharmacist loop. Allow your pharmacist to reach out to your physician to discuss your drug-therapy regimen.
— Discuss substituting a generic for a brand. Ask for a generic when it’s available and proven to be clinically effective.
As always, be an active participant in your health. Start living a healthier lifestyle by eating right and exercising; talk with your primary health-care provider; and take the advice of this research and start a dialogue with your pharmacist.
Mike DeCinti is the executive director of Marketing and Communications for Lumberton Drug. He can be reached at email@example.com or 910-827-2439.