The health care landscape is dotted with hidden gems. These gems once discovered can be used to help you better understand and partner with your primary care provider when making decisions about your health. Here are four hidden pharmacy gems.
Integrated pharmacists are the top gem in the world of pharmacy. While many people trust their pharmacist with delivering their medication quickly and safely, integrated pharmacists work directly in collaboration with your doctor or advanced practice provider (APP).* By using a shared electronic health record and communication system, your doctor/APP and the integrated pharmacist work in real time to make sure you are receiving the best care. If there is a minor clarification needed on a prescription, which in some instances could take up to 48 hours to resolve, the integrated pharmacist can send a direct message to your doctor/APP and get an immediate response on how to proceed. Cost concerns? No worries! Integrated pharmacists work under a collaborative practice agreement allowing them to make adjustments to patients’ medications and confirm they are given the most affordable option. These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Studies show having an integrated pharmacist significantly improves patient results, thus helping you save time, money, and the stress of being the middle person in your healthcare team.
Copay cards are different from discount cards. Copay cards give you a double discount of sorts and are usually provided by drug manufacturing companies on brand-name drugs. These copay cards are used in addition to your health insurance and may save you additional money. For example, if the price for your medication is $35 with your insurance, a copay card would cover part of that bill for you. So, instead of paying $35, you may only pay $5 or even $0! Some patients have reported savings of up to 90% using copay cards. Asking your pharmacist about copay cards just may have you adding some gems to your money bag.
Pharmacists play a major role in vaccinating patients against the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of this February, pharmacies have administered 41.12 million flu vaccinations this flu season. But did you know pharmacists give other vaccinations too? Vaccines for shingles, tetanus, and pneumonia are readily available in most pharmacies, and it doesn’t stop there. If you are planning an exotic vacation, check the CDC travel health site to find out exactly what if any vaccinations you need before leaving. If there are, your next step should be to call your pharmacist as many of these vaccines are available at your local pharmacy, making it a one stop shop for your shots.
The final pharmacy gem is medication review. If you have found yourself looking at a medicine cabinet full of bottles, you are not alone. A survey from 2017 showed that one-third of people in the United States haven’t cleaned out their medications in the past year. Getting organized with your medications, vitamins, and supplements is extremely easy with your pharmacist. They can perform medication reviews with you, explaining the purpose, side effects, and other pertinent information about each item you bring to the counter. Call ahead to ask the pharmacist for the best time to complete a medication review. This will allow you to have ample time to go through each medication and all your concerns with the pharmacist. If your pharmacist is an integrated pharmacist, your path to enlightenment on your brown bag of medications is even simpler. Your doctor/APP can send a consult order directly to the pharmacist and you will be contacted at an agreed upon time to review your medications.
Finding hidden gems in places where you didn’t expect provides a sense of satisfaction while also giving you a new treasure. In pharmacy, the added support provided by this knowledge can add convenience, save money, and most importantly improve health. Be sure to use these gems to make the most out of your next pharmacy visit!
* Advanced Practice Providers are defined as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.