TRUST Is Fragile, Handle With Care

Hello, may I speak with Steve please?

I have worked in the same independent pharmacy for more than 15 years and the pharmacist I work with has been there for just as long.  One of our technicians has been there for almost 10 years and the other for almost 7 years.  Even though we are a small independent pharmacy, we have patients who drive past 5 other pharmacies (some drive more than 20 miles) just to come to our store.  When patients walk into our store they recognize us and have come to trust us.  When one of us is missing…it is truly noticed, not only by the patients walking into the store, but by the other staff also.

This is what I like to call "Continuity of Care".  To me, this means that when patients come into our store they can feel comfortable knowing that we will be there taking care of them.  It means that we have taken the time to get to know our patients, and we have let them get to know us.   It means that we, as a team, are familiar with each other and can trust that the other team members will be there to "have our back".  We all work well together, and because of this, we are able to provide outstanding care to our patients. 

We have 2 or 3 relief pharmacists and 2 or 3 relief technicians that our customers are getting to know.  It is interesting that even though a relief person may have been working with us on and off for over 7 years, when a patient calls in, they will still ask to speak with one of the 4 regular staff.

Community Pharmacy is based upon the "Continuity of Care" that happens when regular staff are able to work together in a symbiotic relationship providing complete pharmaceutical care to patients.

There is a very interesting phenomenon that happens when someone works in a particular location for an extended period of time.  It doesn't matter if it is a pharmacy, insurance office, coffee shop, bank, taqueria, or pet groomer; your customers come to trust that you will be there.  People come to trust that their latte' will be made just right by a certain barista, or that their dog will be groomed just like she was last time. 

Patients come to trust their pharmacist after talking with them at the counter 10 or 15 times and knowing that their pharmacist is fully aware of all of the other medications that they are taking.  This trust opens up another avenue in which a patient may gain access to more complete medical care.  Pharmacy is much more than just making sure (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that the right patient gets the right medication at the correct dose. 

Pharmacy has taken on the responsibility of being the medication educator.  It is the pharmacist's responsibility to assure that the patient understands all aspects of their medication treatment so that they will be motivated to follow their pharmaceutical regimen and gain their best possible outcome while avoiding any medication misadventures.

I fear that over the past few years that the measuring of pharmacy productivity (pharmacy metrics) may have diminished the ability of pharmacists in some practice settings to provide the needed education to patients.  Fortunately, the facility that I work with believes in providing the resources to assure that all patients are provided with the pharmacy education and counseling that is necessary to help assure a positive outcome of therapy.

Next time you go to your insurance agent, hair stylist, chiropractor or dentist; think how you would feel if when you walked in the door there was someone different there to greet you and take care of you.  Would you give them the same level of trust you gave the person who had worked with you the last 10 years, or would you ask them where the previous person had gone to?      


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