Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals in any community. Due to the medication and information they provide, pharmacists abet in getting patients healthy thereby influencing the healthcare delivery. Pharmacists also assist in building product knowledge along with acquiring and informing new patients.
A few decades ago, a pharmacist simply provided medication to a patient as prescribed by the physician. They did not inform the patient anything more about the medication and all doubts would be cleared by the physician himself. Over time, pharmacists began to discuss and explain a few aspects to the patient while providing the medicines.
In today’s scenario, pharmacists are being looked at from a much broader angle. Retailers especially, are empowering pharmacists with better tools and techniques to enhance services for patients. This is enabling patients to connect with their pharmacists at a broader level, clearing their doubts not only about prescriptions, but also on various other health related matters. Engaging with patients also leads to better interactions which further give an impetus to patient retention and obedience towards medication.
Pharmacists are putting in greater efforts in terms of time and attention to other aspects in patient wellness so as to establish pharmacy as a healthcare foundation. These include screening tests, clinical support, vaccinations, wellness programs, and other educational events. Retail clinics which include pharmacies are also becoming centers for customers who need healthcare solutions. Many times, people want to treat themselves for minor ailments using over the counter drugs. Here, a store and a pharmacist being within reach can easily aid them in selecting and using the correct one.
Pharmacists are educating customers through various means such as information leaflets, prescription bag newsletters, magazines, displays at the pharmacy counter and/or digital screens. People are becoming increasingly conscious about their health and have pharmacists to help at all levels. Pharmacists are also becoming valuable to pharmaceutical companies who can reach out to a bigger target audience through them.
Gradually being incorporated into the healthcare system Pharmacy is becoming the third largest healthcare profession. They are being looked at as a part of a chronic care delivery team with physicians and nurses where they support in medication management for patients with chronic illnesses (heart diseases, arthritis, cancer etc.). Many people need to take multiple medications for their illnesses and adhering to such can be a daunting task due to physical and monetary issues. Here, a pharmacist can aid such patients by providing counseling, medication therapy management, and primary care. A pharmacist can be added to a team by collaborative practice agreements (CPAs). Through these agreements, a licensed provider can refer a patient to a pharmacist for subsequent healthcare assistance, improving the patient’s complete healthcare plan.
The role of pharmacist seems to be at an accelerated pace in this transforming environment. And with benefits of OTC drugs, passage to personal care and in the prescription pick up areas, pharmacists are generating opportunities for companies (marketers) and creating a quantifiable return on investment.