Monthly Archives: January 2016

16 Things the Profession of Pharmacy Taught Me

 12509684_582784921881845_4326510530831436507_nThere’s a big difference between the promising world of Pharmacy School and the real world of being there. A few things that stand out in no particular order after over 20 years would be:

 -There are people out there for whatever reason, are not looking for you to make them happy or to make you happy.

-Being reactive in a discussion with a dissatisfied customer is much worse than taking a minute and putting yourself in their position.

-There are treatments that you see working clinically that you may or may not have been taught in pharmacy school or afterwards that may bring negative attention to you by strongly opinionated individuals. All health professionals are biased towards personal clinical experience. Your main goal is to keep patients safe and help them improve their health with their best interest in mind. (Haters gonna hate).

-There is virtually no workplace in the world that is exempt from workplace politics.

-Managing staff is like parenting: if both of you can’t separate the job from friendship, then both fall apart.

-As long as humans are involved, mistakes will happen. Showing that you have learned from the mistake going forward is the best response.

-If you are looking to make money off of filling prescriptions through third party reimbursement, remember they control your income so you need to come up with other ways to make money. Don’t be embarrassed to admit that you are trying to make a profit because that’s what keeps you in your neighborhood operating as a business making them healthier. If someone claims you are profiting off of sick people, that’s fair, but you are really profiting in making them healthier.

-Pharmacy is a dynamic business and you will need to be just as dynamic to be profitable. Many things are out of your control with your profit margin and this forces your profession to change to keep alive.  Don’t be afraid to branch out within your scope of practice. Just don’t be a carpenter that tries electrical. This means providing services and products you didn’t before and actually charging for things that everyone takes for granted as being free.

-You may not be able to eat, drink or go to the bathroom when needed.

-Be aware of the difference between what you think is permissible income-wise with the government and what is really permissible. The former is irrelevant.

-Donating to your community may seem expensive but it helps to keep your business strong by keeping your community strong.

-You are the expert on medications, the doctor is the expert on medicine.

-Delegating authority is one of your strongest assets in success.

-No one pharmacist can be the number one go to on every subject, but you can be on one or two subjects. This is what will set you apart and make your business both interesting and profitable.

-There is a huge difference between a leader and a boss.

-The customer is not always right but they should walk away thinking so.






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Have we allowed Medical Insurance Plans to Have too Much Control of our Health?

IMG_2313[2]   Who is it that really makes the final call on what your treatment is for any of your medical conditions? Most would say their doctor. As a pharmacist however I see something different. It is common to see a patient come to the dispensary counter after their physician has already phoned to see if a first choice drug is covered. Maybe I call the Doctor after I see the prescription and tell them the patient’s plan doesn’t pay for that choice. I see people go without therapy that used to be covered but isn’t anymore. OTC meds are often considered for the most part as “off the radar” for these plans, as if OTC means something useless or not Doctor or Pharmacist recommended. It is often frustrating for medical professionals to feel like their hands are tied and that they are being told what to write for. Newer and more expensive medications that may have obvious benefit over older drugs may be left out in the cold for lengthy waits until a plan decides to cover them. As well, unrealistic hoops may be required to be jumped through before an effective one is covered. It is not uncommon for refills to be made for an unused and ineffective drug that is not taken for weeks or months to show a plan that a drug is being “tried” in order to get the next one approved. Meanwhile the patient suffers needlessly until the more effective one is paid for by the plan.     Slow prior approval processes can become mired down in a way that has patients waiting needlessly for letters from physicians, OT’s, and other specialists.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the world is the strangle hold these plans have on pharmacies. While it is true that pharmacies fill more prescriptions when patients have third party plans, it becomes a profit based on volume that puts big chain pharmacies that avoid smaller communities at an advantage and smaller more community minded independents out. Gone are the days when pharmacies had some say in their dispensing fee, now a four letter word to the public but the main way dispensaries make money. Pharmacies used to be and should be able to run based on their pharmacy sales but not so much any more. dispensing fees don’t cover the cost of filling a prescription for most pharmacies.  For the first time we are now seeing a decrease in dispensing fees. It has become a take it or leave it contract.

Small communities that have relied on the donations of these strong businesses have seen this drop off or eliminate altogether, reducing spinoff benefits. Keep in mind that small independent pharmacies have a more timely and positive response to the types of charity requests seen daily. Preferred provider contracts give lower prescription prices at specific chains, something that used to be illegal. The drop in pharmacy revenue causes front store prices to climb and customers find themselves paying for services that they assumed should be for free, like tax receipts, refill extensions, med reviews, calling the doctor and consultations – things that we are accustomed to getting gratis.

So, physicians are somewhat dictated to, pharmacies are told their price for what they are selling and who is it that controls your health? Of course there are benefits. Most wouldn’t afford the healthcare they have without their plan and that plan is a business that deserves to have some control over its own costs. It should not be a dictatorship that slowly undermines our entire healthcare model.

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