Are you making the most out of your pharmacy?

October 31, 2014
Photo of a pharmacist handing a patient medication

Your pharmacy is a place where you should be comfortable discussing all of your treatment options. Finding the right pharmacy can save you time, money and help you better manage your health.

Is your pharmacy a grab-and-go location?  Or do you utilize your pharmacists’ expertise about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications? If not, you could be seriously undervaluing the wealth of information available at your local pharmacy.

Your pharmacist is more than someone in a white lab-coat at your local drug store; they possess an intimate knowledge of pharmacology and can help you make the most of your treatment plan.

To make the most out of your time, money and medication, here are some not-so-obvious ways the right pharmacy and staff can benefit you:

Time saving

Your pharmacy should be convenient to you. If you lead a fast-paced life and can’t afford to wait in long lines for a prescription, consider searching for a pharmacy with a drive-through window. On those busy days, with little-to-no downtime, being able to pick up your prescriptions without having to leave the car can spare you some unnecessary stress.

While drive-through windows are a good example of how the right pharmacy can save you time, it’s not the only thing you should consider. “People should choose the pharmacy that is most convenient to them and their schedule,” advised Heather Miller, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

Choosing the location that’s closest to your home isn’t always the best criteria for selecting your pharmacy. If dropping by the pharmacy on your way home from work fits best with your schedule, then consider a pharmacy en route from work.

Money saving

Pharmacists have a wealth of information that can save you time and money. “Pharmacists usually have a more intimate knowledge about pharmacology than your physician might. Sometimes your pharmacist will know about a generic brand of your drug that can help you save money and meet your treatment plan,” Miller said.

If cost is a concern, your pharmacist is able to review your treatment plan and make recommendations for you to share with your primary care physician. Since your pharmacist works closely with drug-therapy plans, they may have a better knowledge of which alternative medications are less expensive or covered by your insurance, while still making sure that there are no interactions or side effects.

Life-saving

Pharmacists are often dubbed “the last line of defense” in checking for potential interactions. This is one of the reasons why hospitals are adding more pharmacists to their emergency departments’ staff.

One of the best ways to fully utilize your pharmacy staff’s expertise is to have all of your prescriptions sent to one central pharmacy location. This way, your pharmacists can double-check that none of the medications you take will have an adverse interaction. If you are nervous about possible drug interactions or side effects, Miller suggests you talk to your pharmacist.

“What people don’t necessarily realize is that their pharmacist is a drug-therapy expert and a great source of information for people to bring their questions and concerns about their medications,” Miller said.

Your health and safety are important matters, and something as simple as finding the best-fit pharmacy can help you gain more control over your treatment and care.

— Elizabeth Grimm

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