Make the Most Out of Your Pharmacy Experience

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Make the Most Out of Your Pharmacy Experience
July 30, 2021
RxLocal Team

With a routine trip to the pharmacy, you can make a difference in the quality of your health and the health of your loved ones. Community pharmacies are the epicenters for affordable, accessible healthcare; and by visiting them on a regular basis, you can get the medications and the services that you need to see better outcomes all around.

Pharmacists, technicians, and support staff work day in and day out to create the right plans and offer the right treatments for you. In order to see the best results, though, you must expand your role as a patient and play an active role in your own health. By taking the right steps, you can express your concerns, address your needs, and reach your goals. These steps translate to better outcomes and better health for you. At the same time, they can make your pharmacist interactions more rewarding and your routine trips just a little bit more enjoyable.

On your next visit to the pharmacy, try out these best practices:

1. Come Prepared

One of the most important things you can do at your pharmacy appointment is come prepared. Your local pharmacist can do more for you than just fill your prescriptions - most offer other health-related consultation services that can get you on the right track to improving your health journey. Before your visit, set aside some time to think about the health concerns you have, the outcomes you hope to get with your treatment (whether it’s improving a specific measurement or simply feeling better), and how you and your pharmacist can work together to get there.

Taking this extra time can help you to feel more confident about discussing your needs and goals with your pharmacist, and it can help you to feel more in control of your treatment plan — one of the most important factors in how successful you will be.

When you come prepared, you can also help your pharmacist to better understand your current health state, and more importantly, how you can get to your ideal health state. In addition, it can help your pharmacist to address any potential concerns you may have and foresee any problems that may arise. If you want to see the best possible outcomes, then, do some prep work before going to the pharmacy. Take these recommended steps from the National Institute of Health:

  • Make a list and prioritize your concerns
  • Take important information with you, like your insurance card and a list of current medications you take
  • Consider bringing a family member or friend
  • Keep your pharmacist up-to-date on any new health changes
  • Remove any barriers to communication

2. Ask Questions

When it comes to creating a strong relationship with your pharmacist and finding a treatment plan that fits your needs, your questions are invaluable. All healthcare providers, pharmacists included, want to hear your questions and answer them in a timely manner so that you can feel comfortable with the treatment you receive. Your questions can be general — like asking basic information about a type of drug — or specific — like how a certain test or procedure fits in with your overall plan. You can also ask for more explanation or clarification whenever necessary.

Especially when it comes to picking up a new prescription medication, it is important to ask questions so that you can take the medication correctly and see improvements as soon as possible. Here are a few worth considering:

  • What is this medication, and what is it used for?
  • When and how often should I take this medication?
  • Will this medication create conflicts with any other medications I take?
  • What are the risks and side effects I might expect?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose of my medication?
  • How much does the medication cost?
  • Can I substitute this medication for a generic?

3. Speak Up

To prevent errors in your treatment plan, it is important that you talk to your pharmacist about any problems you may be facing. When you feel concerned, have an adverse reaction, or doubt the effectiveness of the services you have received or the medications you are taking, express it to your pharmacist. If the pharmacist does not know about your concerns, they cannot alleviate them.

In addition to helping your pharmacist, when you speak up, you are playing an active role in your own health and ensuring that you get exactly what you need. So, in order to get the most out of your treatment plan and your pharmacy experience as a whole, use your voice. Follow the Joint Commission’s acronym, “Speak Up” , which has been adapted for pharmacy use, to help you do so:

S - Speak up if you have questions or concerns

P - Pay attention to the care you get, making sure you get the right treatment

E - Educate yourself about your health conditions

A - Ask a trusted friend or family member to be your advocate

K - Know what medications you take and why you take them

U - Use a pharmacy that you have carefully researched

P - Participate in all decisions about your health

4. Follow Your Treatment Plan

Having worked with your pharmacist to develop a proper treatment plan, it is important that you stick to it. Whether your treatment consists of taking a particular medication, using a vitamin or supplement, or coming into the pharmacy for routine testing, make your health and your treatment a priority. Certain limitations, like time constraints, forgetfulness, or finances, can sometimes get in the way of treatment, but it is important that you make an effort to follow your plan as closely as possible.

If you find that you are regularly skipping doses of your medication or missing routine appointments, it is important to talk to your pharmacist. They can help you to find ways to address these problems — from sending you text message reminders to helping you find financial assistance programs to pay for your prescriptions.

In any case, your pharmacist is on your team, so don’t be afraid to have an open conversation about setbacks you are having with your treatment plan. Together, you can find a way to overcome them.

5. Stick with Your Pharmacist

One of the most important parts of your pharmacy experience is the relationship that you build with your pharmacist. By visiting the same pharmacist on a regular basis, you can begin to develop a rapport that benefits everyone involved.

When you build a strong relationship with your pharmacist, you will feel more comfortable asking questions, speaking up, and collaborating to improve your health. You will also have a better sense that your input is being taken into consideration and that your pharmacist has your best interest in mind. In addition to this, becoming closer with your pharmacist will enable them to understand your needs better and will give them the tools they need to give you more personalized support.

Outside of your treatment plan, building a relationship with your pharmacist can help you to feel connected not only as a patient but also as an individual. In an effort to cultivate these relationships, though, it is important to stick with one pharmacist or group of pharmacy staff — showing your loyalty and keeping your business with them. With this approach, everyone wins.

If you are in the market for a new community pharmacy, consult our Pharmacy Finder to find one in your area that can help meet your health needs and goals. Taking this first step will set you on the path to better health and help you make the most out of your next pharmacy experience.