If you ask any of your patients why they do not like going to the pharmacy, they are likely to give you an extensive list of the disadvantages of pharmacy dispensing.
Some patients may claim they do not like the time and effort it takes from when they receive the prescription to when they receive their medication. Others may report they don’t like everyone else in the pharmacy line being able to hear or see their transactions.
Patients do not ask for much when it comes to their health. They want you to help them relieve negative symptoms. They want their privacy protected. They want quick service and they want all of this at the lowest price possible.
Pharmacies do not seem to take any of these factors into consideration. Not necessarily because they are mean or don’t want to help, but pharmacists are busy. They are too busy to put the patient first. Keep reading to find out the most common disadvantages of pharmacy dispensing.
Capitalizing on Inconvenience
Studies have shown that patients are not satisfied with pharmacies, especially chain pharmacies. Much of their dissatisfaction is due to the amount of time patients spend waiting to receive their medicine.
During this wait time patients end up spending too much money on items they do not need. Pharmacies are set up to up sell products that could be purchased for much less at the dollar store. Patients get bored, however, and to kill time they shop.
Pharmacies capitalize on the wait time of patients.
Also, the longer the time at the pharmacy, the longer a patient must wait for relief. When someone is in pain, they will do almost anything for relief, even if temporary. This includes impulse shopping.
Potential Compounding Errors
A medication error is defined as any event that can be prevented but due to error on the part of the physician, pharmacist or patient, causes harm to the patient.
Pharmacy errors are increasing each year. Medication errors can include the following: giving the patient the wrong medication; giving the patient someone else’s medication; pharmacist authorizing the wrong dose on the medication; pharmacist or pharmacy technician contaminating the medication.
These errors happen, and they happen on a regular basis across the country.
The use of pharmaceutical technicians is also a concern. They are not trained as well to spot errors, prevent cross-contamination and keep up with the enormous demands of busy pharmacies today, which are major disadvantages of pharmacy dispensing
During a recent flu epidemic, when drug stores ran out of Tamiflu, the FDA simply posted their recipe and instructed pharmacists to recreate the formula as they need it. This tactic lead to major medical issues for patients, and even killed some.
Accidents like these can lead to allergic reactions in patients who trust the pharmacist to get it right.
An overdose can happen when a patient takes a higher dose of a medication than they should have. An overdose can also happen when a patient takes the wrong medicine, thinking it was the right medicine. Furthermore, an overdose can happen when a patient takes too many medications.
Privacy Is Compromised
Confidentiality is a big deal to patients. If they feel their confidentiality could be or has been violated, they will be hurt and angry.
Patients do not want to ask personal questions in front of a line of people like they must do at a pharmacy. There are no confidential areas at pharmacies that provide the secrecy patients are seeking.
Even those who do choose to speak with a pharmacist are forced to whisper, and then made to feel rushed so the pharmacist can return to filling more prescriptions.
Situations like this often cause patients to avoid getting their medicine, making them out of compliance.
Compliance Is Not a Priority
Compliance is when your patient follows through with the recommended treatment plan you created. If they are recommended to take prescription medicines, then they will most likely follow your orders.
When you send a patient to a pharmacy to pick up their prescription, you do not really know if they followed through with that action. You don’t even really know if they went to the pharmacy at all. You are left to rely on the word of your patients.
Pharmacists do not have to ensure patients are compliant with their medicines. While it would be nice, and ethical, they are not required to do so. They are not even required to report their suspicions or concerns to you when they feel a patient may be abusing their medicine.
Disadvantages of Pharmacy Dispensing
It’s tempting for patients to seek advice from pharmacists. They think because they work with medications, pharmacists should know how to direct them when they have a problem.
While pharmacists can offer their opinion and yes, they are well-educated on the prescription medicines they fill, they are not the right person to recommend treatment options for patients.
Pharmacists are not trained like physicians to offer treatment options, and they would not want to risk their license in doing so. Pharmacists can, however, explain in detail the medication or treatment you have been prescribed.
For example, if a patient is prescribed an anti-depressant, pharmacists can consult with the patient on everything related to that anti-depressant. This can include side effects and what to do in case of an accidental overdose.
This same pharmacist, even if they feel the patient has been given a poor medication, cannot explain all other treatment options to a patient. They can simply refer them back to their physician which is another of the disadvantages of pharmacy dispensing.
Other disadvantages of pharmacy dispensing include the possibility of cross contamination if medications are compounded on unclean surfaces. Or, if staff members are sick with the flu or other illnesses and are not following safe handling procedures.
Patients do not want to deal with the disadvantages of pharmacy dispensing and many more. Providing them with services such as in-office dispensing turns these disadvantages into advantages. It also turns patients into happy, satisfied and loyal customers.
When you have loyal patients, your practice will thrive.