One of the privileges I enjoy as a pharmacist and manager is the opportunity to work with upcoming pharmacists as a preceptor in conjunction with our local college of pharmacy. I treasure these opportunities to talk about pharmacy, both the clinical and business side of things, as well as work with students on projects and goals. Chi Mai was assigned to write a blog post about something she learned about during her rotation. The following is her work, and I invite my readers to welcome her to The Honest Apothecary and to many years of successful service to patients and other healthcare providers.
Thank you Chi! It was a pleasure working with you.
A Private Consultation Room in Every Pharmacy
Today, retail pharmacists are able to offer many services beyond dispensing medications. Still, there are so much more that pharmacists can offer to patients if the right opportunity is given to them. As I was handed a project to design and put a private consultation room to use by my preceptor (Jason Poquette), I realized that this consultation room can provide the perfect opportunity for pharmacists to not only offer their expert advice and guidance, but also to develop a good rapport with patients. After doing a bit of research, I managed to compile some of the services that pharmacists could offer to patients in the private consultation room. These are listed below:
- Counseling on the use and side effects of new prescriptions
- Following up on patients’ current medications
- Performing medication therapy management and vaccinations
- Demonstrating the use of various devices, such as inhalers and blood glucose meters.
- Demonstrating how to inject insulin if necessary
- Provide information and guidance on the management of specific disease states, such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.
- Helping patient choose the right medications for minor health problems, such as the common cold, constipation, heartburn, various dermatological conditions, and many others.
In addition to the list above, pharmacists can also use the consultation room to counsel patients on emergency contraception, smoking cessation and any other health conditions that the patients might not feel comfortable discussing in the open.
Interestingly, the number of pharmacies equipped with a private consultation room in the Worcester area are close to none. To my belief, it is because pharmacies are still in the midst of breaking away from the usual functions that are tied to dispensing medications. With the growing role of pharmacists as healthcare providers and the increasing number of services they can offer, it is crucial that a pharmacy be equipped with a private consultation room—where the pharmacist can have a one-on-one interaction with the patient.
Such individualized care can bring better health outcomes to patients and consequently improve their quality of life. For example, there was a study done in the UK back in 2012 to measure the impact of community pharmacy diabetes education and monitoring programs on patient with type 2 diabetes. The results that they found showed that the involvement of a community pharmacist significantly contribute to better management of Type 2 diabetes, reduced comorbidities, improved adherence and patient satisfactions.1
We might hope that patients would just line up for a consultation with the pharmacist, but a lot more needs to be done before that can happen.
First, the pharmacy needs to have the space, and it should be big enough for at least 2 people. Either the pharmacy or the pharmacists should figure out what kind of services we would like to offer. Depending on the services we will be offering, we will need to find resources for patient education supplies. For example, if we decide to offer a monitoring/management program on diabetes, we can get information leaflets, trackers, and tip sheets from the American Diabetes Association.
Next—the most important step—is to get the word out. We need to let patients know about the availability of the private consultation room, the services we offer, how we can help them, and what they can expect to get out of it. One advertising strategy that I had thought about while drafting up my project includes the use of signs. There could be a sign at the entrance of the pharmacy and at the drop off counter, letting the patients know that we have a private consultation room available. In addition, the prescription bags can be used to advertise the consultation services that we offer.
There is also an option to create a brochure, which can explain the benefits of using our services, why patients should take advantage of them, and how they can sign up for them. The other strategy is to target the regular customers, especially those who have more than one disease states and/or are taking more than 5 medications. When these regular customers come in, the staff can ask the patients if they would like to sign up for the service and explain what that service can do for them.
Even though lots of planning, efforts and time investments are being made to put a consultation room to use, once it is up and running it will open up a lot of opportunities for pharmacists to make a difference in the patients’ lives. I hope this short post can make pharmacies and pharmacists start to consider putting a private consultation room to use.
1. Ali M, Schifano F, Robinson P, et al. Impact of community pharmacy diabetes monitoring and education programme on diabetes management: a randomized controlled study. Diabet. Med. 2012 Sep:29(9):e326-33.