Health literacy deals with a patient’s ability to obtain and process the health information for taking their health decisions; and to imbibe this understanding in the patient, pharmacists play a major role. As this is the last interaction in the chain of healthcare before patients begin to take their medication, the pharmacists must counsel effectively. It is the pharmacist’s mandatory skill to improve patient communication and while also increasing their effectiveness and revenues.
Here Are A Few Ways In Which Counseling Skills Can Help Augment Pharmacist’s Revenues:
- Customer Relationships: The pharmacist must form a professional relationship with the patient, albeit with a personal touch. The patient may take the pharmacist as a parent and wish to be treated as authoritative and nurturing. The pharmacist must build this with imparting trustworthy information and care. The patient will definitely go back to the same pharmacist who takes out time to talk to them than one who just passes medicines on without any explanation.
- Service: While counseling patients on how and when the medications are to be taken, it is recommended that pharmacists add on a service of sending alerts/messages to the patient about their medication. This will make the patient feel important and the patient will then return to the same pharmacist thereby increasing the pharmacist’s revenues.
- Effective Communication: This would be one of deal maker or breaker between the pharmacist and the patient. The patients need to understand what is being communicated; hence the pharmacist must not speak swiftly. The pharmacist must have a clear eye contact, a pleasing personality and be enthusiastic (tone and body language) while dealing with patients.
- Needs: The pharmacist must also always ask the patient if there’s any more added assistance they need. The conversation between the pharmacist and the patient must revolve around the patient’s requirements. It is vital for the pharmacist to gauge the patient’s response. If the patient is unable to understand, the pharmacist must work around way to explain the medication.
- Simple and Strong: The counseling skills of the pharmacist must be simple and strong. Apart from explaining with a few basic points, it is imperative that the pharmacist speaks with utmost confidence and conviction.
- Suggestions: If there has been no discussion with the pharmacist, and the patient goes out with mere directions on the medication label, it simply indicates a void between the two. To clear this, the pharmacist can enquire if the patient is aware of the medication prescribed, how it should be taken and other precautions before administering the medicine. The pharmacist must explain the consequences if a dosage is missed; how can the patient know if the medication is working on them; how the drug works in the body; the allergies associated with the medicine; other medications which the patient is taking/shouldn’t take which might have a good/adverse effect with the current medication being discussed; or have any effect on any other disease that the patient has. The pharmacist must explain the storage system of the medication, what must be done about refills, what must be done of unused meds and that the patient can contact the pharmacist in case of any doubts. The pharmacist must also explain of any Black Box, grapefruit, sun sensitivity or specific alcohol warnings in the medication.
The pharmacist must instruct keeping in mind that the patient has rudimentary education about the medication. Pharmacists can visit the ‘ASHP Guidelines on Pharmacist-Conducted Patient Education and Counseling’ for patient instructions and counseling strategies. The pharmacists must create a strong brand identity and be able to cater to all needs of the patient thereby augmenting their revenues.