What if your prescription could talk to you? Imagine a day so far advanced, technology so far developed, that you simply gave your prescription bottle a little click and…voilà…an audible and professional voice begins to speak and tell you virtually everything you needed to know about your medication. The technology I’m describing isn’t a replacement for your local pharmacist. Face to face interaction is the heartbeat of real health care. But access to reliable and convenient information about your prescription is an invaluable advantage in our day. And AudibleRxTM is just that. Of course, the technology is even better than a bottle. You can access it online from the convenience of your laptop or iPad.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview pharmacist Steve Leuck, the developer of AudibleRxTM. So grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair and listen in as we talk a little about this remarkable resource for patients.
So Steve, thank you kindly for taking the time to talk to me and my readers here at The Honest Apothecary. Could you tell us a little about your career as a pharmacist prior to the creation of AudibleRxTM?
Jason, first of all, thanks for the opportunity to participate in your interview. I graduated from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy with a Pharm.D. Degree in 1987. After a short six month tour in a chain pharmacy, I worked my way into a community hospital pharmacy position. I had found my spot in the hospital pharmacy. The late 80’s and early 90’s in hospital pharmacy saw the pharmacists move from the basement to the floors. Doctors were becoming familiar with the concept that pharmacists had knowledge to offer to the health care team and were accepting of our ideas.
After about 10 years of hospital shift work, an opportunity opened up in our hospital outpatient pharmacy. At that time, our two children were about 4 and 6 years old and my wife and I had the discussion that the regular schedule offered by the outpatient pharmacy might be better for the family life. I took the position in our outpatient/clinic pharmacy and have been there for close to 16 years now. As for our children, the eldest is graduating college this spring as a social media marketer and the other is in the middle of a natural chef program.
The clinic pharmacy is owned by the hospital that I work for; however, it is run as if it is an independent pharmacy. We have a fantastic patient population and we offer a strong continuity of care. The store is staffed by two technicians, one pharmacist and one pharmacist manager. Patients will regularly show up at our store with a not-so-common prescription and they have been all over town looking for it. We are the end of the line and will take the time figure it out and get the prescription, find out where they can get the prescription, or call the doctor and come up with another therapy option. Our hospital administration has always supported our efforts and understands the time needed for patient counseling.
When did the idea of AudibleRxTM begin to develop in your mind? What did you do to start developing this idea?
Our store is located on the hospital campus. Regularly we get people coming through our pharmacy who have had prescriptions filled mail order or at one of the big box pharmacies in town. These patients see that we are regularly having conversations with our patients at the pharmacy counter. It is not uncommon for one of these folks to step up to the counter and ask us a question about their medication.
I will first take a couple moments to explain the importance of developing a relationship with their community pharmacist, someone who knows their entire medication profile and looks out for any medication issue with their prescriptions. More often than not, this is a foreign concept to them and after a bit of discussion they consider transferring their prescriptions to our store. I will continue on and answer their question the best I can. At closing, I will encourage them once again to find a pharmacy they feel comfortable with and fill all of their prescriptions at that store. The community pharmacist is there to look out for their best interest.
In July of 2011 I had a one of these patients come into the store with a question. This time a thought came to me. I remember telling the other pharmacist in the store, wouldn’t it be great if there was a website that patients could go to, click on the name of the drug they wanted to learn more about, and listen to a pharmacist describe all of the important aspects of that medication. Not something like the commercials we see on television, rather, something that tells a little of how the medication works and then goes on to describe all of the required elements of a complete counseling session.
Who is AudibleRxTM for, and what are the costs involved in using this service?
AudibleRxTM is designed for consumers, care givers, family members and anyone who wants to learn more about their medications. The program is available as Individual or Group Memberships through the AudibleRxTM website at www.AudibleRx.com. Individual membership costs $14.95 for a full five year membership and includes complete access to all of the counseling sessions for the duration of the membership. Please visit the website for Group Membership details.
Examples of how a Group Membership may be used include (but not limited to):
- Employee wellness plan for employees
- Doctors office clinic for patients
- Independent pharmacy for customers
- Prescription Benefit Manager for enrollees
- Hospital based for patients prior to discharge
What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a pharmacist for you?
As a pharmacist, I am rewarded when I make a difference. Many times throughout each day, opportunities present themselves to participate in a patients care. Acknowledging and understanding that each patient has a different situation and requires a different level of participation allows for a rewarding experience as a community pharmacist.
Many pharmacists are discouraged about direction of our profession. Any thoughts on the future of the pharmacy profession from your perspective?
I feel that pharmacy is a fantastic career choice. I encourage anyone interested in health care to go to pharmacy school and find their path. That said, you need to have the right mind set moving into the profession of pharmacy. This is not easy work. Working as a pharmacist requires long, hard work that at times may feel grueling and stressful. Pharmacy is a dynamic profession and is evolving into much more than prescription verification at the pharmacy counter. We will always be dispensers; however, we are also now practitioners. Find your niche, your specialty, your passion, and own it.
What advice would you have to pharmacist entrepreneurs out there?
I have realized that it is not a common practice for an Internet business to start and then make it big overnight. Becoming a pharmacy entrepreneur is a long and tedious process. As an entrepreneur, you need to find something you are passionate about and stick to it. My process has been, from day one, that I am moving forward with a patient education program. If this makes money someday, fantastic; however, that is not my focus. You need to get the word out by creating an Internet presence.
Get yourself published. Create a blog and post a topic once or twice weekly. Register with RxEconsult and publish articles for other health professionals to read. Create a social media campaign with facebook, twitter and pinterest. Become active on linkedin and interact with other pharmacy entrepreneurs. Read other blogs and articles on a daily basis and comment with educated opinions.
If patients or businesses want to get more information about AudibleRxTM, how should they contact you?
Please, take a moment to visit www.AudibleRx.com and see how the site may benefit you. Along with the Medication Specific Counseling SessionsTM I also have a Pharmacy Topics page. This page is where I have audio versions of all of my pharmacy blogs. They are organized in category format for easy browsing.
Steve, I want to sincerely thank you for introducing AudibleRxTM to me and my readers. I want to personally encourage patients and businesses to consider making this very worthwhile investment into furthering your understanding of your prescription medication.