9 Pharmacy Services That May Surprise You
If you’re like most people, you probably visit your community pharmacy on a regular basis. When you need to pick up a prescription, stock up on seasonal items, or get a quick word of advice, you take a trip to the pharmacy. This comes as no surprise, given that pharmacies are the most accessible healthcare hubs in the United States. Even if you’re a regular customer at your local pharmacy, though, you may not be making the most of all it has to offer.
In the past, pharmacies were seen as a one-stop-shop to get medications. In recent years, though, they have expanded beyond simple prescription filling and started to offer other services that you can take advantage of. These services, known as clinical services, are usually offered by doctors and nurses. In many cases, though, your local pharmacist can offer them, too. Not only are clinical services from your pharmacist easier to access, but they are typically less expensive and more personalized.
If you want to get more out of your pharmacy experience, look into clinical services. All pharmacies offer different services: they may focus on certain ones and not others, so it’s important to know which options you have available.
Learn more about some of the most common clinical services and consider what you need. Then, take the time to reach out to your pharmacy, find out if they offer your preferred services, and schedule an appointment as soon as you need them.
If you have a complicated or confusing medication regimen, your pharmacy may be able to help. Medication therapy management, or MTM for short, is a program designed to help you understand your health conditions and your medications on a deeper level. In an MTM program, your pharmacist schedules regular appointments with you to discuss your medical history and medication plan with you, then makes sure that you understand exactly how to move forward. MTM is an excellent way to get individual input and advice from your pharmacist, so find out if you qualify.
Similar to MTM, medication synchronization can be helpful if you have a hard time understanding (and sticking to) your treatment plan. Medication synchronization, or med sync, is designed for people who take multiple medications and who may struggle with missing doses. If you sign up for a med sync program, you can pick up all of your prescriptions at one convenient day and time every month rather than having to make multiple trips to the pharmacy. This can help you stay on top of your medications.
For added effectiveness, ask your pharmacist about adherence packaging, which helps ensure that you take the right medication at the right time. More than 5,000 pharmacies currently offer med sync programs.
Medicine is never a one-size-fits-all approach. What may work for one person may not work for another, and in some cases, you may even need to get a medication designed just for you. If you have an allergy, sensitivity, or a specific need, a compounding pharmacy can create a specialty medication for you. They can leave out certain ingredients or add in others so that you can mitigate risks and see the full effectiveness of your treatment. About 7,500 community pharmacies have compounding services available.
When you feel an illness coming on, you can head to the pharmacy to get a quick and reliable diagnosis. Whether you have an acute illness (like flu or strep) or a chronic disease (like HIV or hepatitis C), pharmacies with point-of-care testing services can get you the answers you need. They can run tests right from the pharmacy, get results in a matter of minutes, and set you up with a treatment plan. Next time you feel under the weather, then, don’t count your pharmacy out.
For certain illnesses, you may need to get a lab test rather than a point-of-care test. Point-of-care testing produces rapid results, but lab tests have may require several days to get results back (since they have to be sent off to an outside lab). Luckily, you can still turn to your pharmacy to perform the test itself.
Most lab tests come in the form of blood tests or urine samples 一 testing for illnesses like anemia, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer 一 which your pharmacist will take from you and then send off for testing. Although you can expect slower results from a lab test, you can probably get the test itself done faster at a pharmacy than at a doctor’s office.
A third and final testing service that your pharmacy may offer is pharmacogenetic testing. Pharmacogenetic testing looks at your DNA and predicts how your body will respond to certain medications. It can be used to prevent medication complications and improve your treatment outcome. If you are unsure of how you may respond to a medication, ask your pharmacist about pharmacogenetic testing. They can take a quick DNA sample, send it off to an approved laboratory, and get valuable insights for you.
If you are looking to prevent illness altogether, your pharmacy is your number one resource. As cold and flu season approaches, look to the pharmacy to get up-to-date on your seasonal vaccinations 一 and don’t forget about your COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot either. Even out of season, though, your pharmacy can offer vaccinations against many other common illnesses, like hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, meningitis, tetanus, and chickenpox. Nearly 3/4 of pharmacies offer some sort of immunization program, so odds are yours does, too.
One-on-one meetings with the pharmacist aren’t just for MTM patients. Whether you need help understanding your treatment, your bill, or specific aspects of your health, your pharmacy may offer patient counseling to get you plugged in. You can schedule an in-person meeting, a virtual conference, or even send messages to your pharmacist in real-time using the RxLocal Patient Portal. Patient counseling enables you to get access to the answers you need, both in and out of the pharmacy.
Your pharmacy’s main priority is caring for your family, but they can also take care of your furry friends. Pharmacies that specialize in pet care, also known as veterinary pharmacies, can dispense prescriptions, prepare compounded medications, and offer expert insight on how to care for your pets. Instead of visiting multiple pharmacies, you can get all of your family’s needs met in one place, no matter if they have two legs or four.
While your local independent pharmacy should be your first stop for prescriptions, prescriptions shouldn’t be the only reason you stop. Your pharmacy can serve you in many other ways, with personalized tests, results, and treatments that keep you healthy.
More and more, pharmacies are starting to invest in clinical services, and you should be taking advantage of them. Give your pharmacy a call today to get started.
And, if you want to find a new pharmacy that specializes in a certain clinical service, consult our Pharmacy Finder to find the right fit for you.