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March 2019 Newsletter: Your Healthcare team!!

Building Your Healthcare Team: You, Your Doctors and Your Pharmacist

 

 You carefully selected your doctor. You asked questions, got recommendations, checked credentials. But did you give as much thought to choosing your pharmacist?

Your pharmacist is your most accessible – and underutilized – healthcare resource available. In fact, of all your healthcare providers, your pharmacist is likely the one you see most often.1

 

Get the most out of your pharmacy visits

 

Your local independent pharmacy can help you manage chronic conditions, avoid dangerous drug interactions, and provide other low-cost and convenient services to help keep your health on a positive track between doctor’s visits. The more information you give to your pharmacist, the more assistance they can provide:

 

  • Use the same pharmacy for every prescription. This is especially important if you have multiple doctors. Your pharmacist can help ensure your various prescriptions will not interact.2
  • Update your information. Do you have new health insurance? Have you been diagnosed with a new condition? Have you had any side effects or allergic reactions? Are you taking any new over the counter (OTC) medications? Keeping your information updated can help your pharmacist spot red flags.
  • Ask questions about OTC medications. OTC medications do not require a prescription, but they can interact with other medications, lessen their effects, or adversely impact a chronic condition. 3 From cold remedies to supplements, always check with your pharmacist.
  • Ask about alternatives. Do you have trouble swallowing large pills? Are you suffering from uncomfortable side effects? Is your prescription too expensive? Your pharmacist may be able to suggest alternatives and work with your physician to make the change.
  • Ask for help. Is it sometimes difficult to remember when to take your prescription – or if you’ve taken it already? Do you frequently run out or need to make multiple trips to the pharmacy? Ask if the pharmacy offers any programs such as local delivery, medicine synchronization, compliance packaging, and refill reminders that can help keep you on track.

 

Arm yourself with information.

 

Did you know that each year thousands of people are admitted to the hospital, don’t improve as expected or spend additional money on medical visits simply because they didn’t take their medication correctly?2 Before you leave the pharmacy, make sure you fully understand what the medication is for and how to take it. Here are a few questions you should ask:

  1. What can I expect this medication to do and how will I know if it is being effective?
  2. I am allergic to __________. Will this medication cause any problems?
  3. I am also taking __________ and some OTC supplements. Is that okay with this new medication?
  4. Should I take this with food? If yes, are there any foods I should avoid?
  5. Are there any possible side effects? What should I do if I experience a side effect?
  6. When should I take it, and what should I do if I miss a dose?
  7. How should I store this medication? Does it need refrigeration (if yes, what should I do if I accidentally leave it out)?
  8. Is there a less expensive medication under my health insurance plan that would be equally as effective? Would it be less expensive if I paid the cash price?
  9. Do you have any services that could help make my life easier?1,4,5

 

Your pharmacist and physician – partners for your health Your local pharmacist can work with your physician to help ensure the best possible health outcome for you. They can also act as a connection to your doctor, helping you work out issues with your prescriptions and suggesting alternatives when necessary. Many pharmacies offer other services to help support your health between doctor’s visits:

  • Blood pressure. Your pharmacist can suggest how to continue to monitor it and let you know when it might be time to check back in with your doctor.4
  • Blood sugar. Many pharmacies offer blood sugar checks. Your pharmacist can also help you master the devices you need to monitor your blood sugar on your own.
  • OTC medications. Your pharmacist can help you select medications for minor ailments – and let you know which ones you should avoid because of your prescriptions or chronic health issues.
  • Staying on track. Perhaps it is as easy as asking your pharmacist to help you divide your pills into a “days of the week” pill box. Or, depending on your needs, delivery, compounding, medication synchronization or compliance packaging may be needed to help you reach your health goals. Look for a pharmacy that offers the services you need.
  • Annual medication review. Ask your pharmacist to review your prescriptions. They can work with your physician(s) to keep your medicine regime up to date and most cost effective under your current health plan. If you are a caregiver, your pharmacist can also help you understand the medications your loved one is taking and help arm you with questions for their doctor(s).

 

We’re here for you

Building a strong healthcare team is the first step to bettering your outcome. It’s your health – if you are unsure of a diagnosis or treatment, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand the answer, ask for clarification until you have a thorough understanding – your team is here to work for you. Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources

  1. CDC: “Get to Know Your Pharmacist” https://www.cdc.gov/features/pharmacist-month/index.html Accessed: February 8, 2019.
  2. AHPA: “How To Get The Most From Your Pharmacist” https://www.pharmacist.com/how-get-most-yourpharmacist Accessed: February 8, 2019.
  3. Consumer Reports: “How Your Pharmacist Can Make You Healthier” https://www.consumerreports.org/health-wellness/how-your-pharmacist-can-make-you-healthier/ Accessed: February 8, 2019.
  4. Patient Advocate Foundation: “Tips for Talking With Your Pharmacist” https://www.patientadvocate.org/explore-our-resources/interacting-with-your-physician/tips-for-talking-withyour-pharmacist/ Accessed: February 8, 2019.
  5. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Safe Medicine Practices” https://www.aaos.org/research/committee/ptsafety/MedSafetyBrochure.pdf Accessed: February 11, 2019.
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