Pharmacy Innovation + Patient Education (what's your enthusiasm?)

At home I have a picture of me and my dad, kneeling in front of the television, fall 1967.  It is a really cool picture of both of us; however, what stands out is the fantastic television in the background.  This was a big, free-standing box with four wooden legs supporting its massive structure.  The width of the television must have been twice the width of the viewing screen.  You know the kind with the rounded corners and the screen that bubbles out just a little.  It had the standard manual dial channel changer that went from 2 through 13.  Most channels turned off after 11 or 12 at night, no such thing as all night infomercials.  Pretty darn amazing technology for the time. 

Now, we watch full length movies on our smart phone and catch television shows on computer tablets while sitting on the back porch.

I remember in high school, in the dining room, on the way to the bathroom, we had this little counter where we kept the house telephone.  Above the phone was a chalk board, about 2 feet X 3 feet in size.  This was an active center.  Anytime someone in the house had a message for someone else, you put it on the board.  If one of the kids needed to be up a certain time, it was fair game to leave a message on the board for a wake up and 99 times out of a 100, Mom or Dad or someone else would wake you up at the requested time.  If you ever received a phone call and you weren’t home, whoever took the call would always leave a message there on the chalk board for you.  For the time, this was our effective way of text-messaging each other. 

Now, we have conversations with people half way around the world, and those sitting 3 chairs away from us, texting back and forth.  We are all connected with who we wish to be connected with all the time.

I like watching old movies that have a reference to a pharmacist somewhere in it.  There is this one Elvis Presley movie that took place in New Orleans where Elvis is working as a pharmacy clerk.  The movie has a distinct presence of a pharmacist, in the background, compounding medications.  The pharmacist’s knowledge base was that of how to prepare and present the medication in an acceptable and palatable manner. 

Since then, the pharmacist has still maintained the function of compounding medications; however, the profession of pharmacist has worked its way into all corners of the health care system.  Pharmacists are now involved in immunization clinics, dosage monitoring clinics, team members in Intensive Care Units, Operating Rooms, and Emergency Rooms, specialties in all avenues of medicine, integral members of hospital health care teams, pharmacy computer system management and development and yes, patient education.

In 1987 when I started my practice as a pharmacist, counseling was not mandatory.  We would discuss specifics with patients; however, the process was inconsistent from pharmacy to pharmacy.  In 1990 the Omnibus Reconciliation Act, amongst other things, mandated that pharmacists counsel patients with any new prescription or with any change in directions on a current prescription.  These counseling sessions are to include over 16 specific areas of information and it is encouraged that they be face to face so that the pharmacist may evaluate the patients understanding of the information.  Also included is a stack of papers describing all of the important topics about each specific medication that are to be covered in the counseling session.   

Unfortunately, I am not convinced that all of this innovation and expansion of the pharmacy profession has given full recognition of the need to educate patients to participate in their own pharmaceutical care.    Many times a patient will receive their prescription in the mail or from a big box pharmacy and still have questions about their medication. They may read through the material; however, some of the paper work can be quite confusing.  AudibleRxTM was developed to bridge the gap between the pharmacist, the doctor and the patient.

After a patient or family member listens to a Medication Specific Counseling SessionTM on the AudibleRxTM website they will have a clear idea of what they do and don’t know about their medications.  They will then be in the position to take educated questions back to their own pharmacist or doctor.  We want patients to be motivated to adhere to their medication regimen. 

Understanding how and why they are taking their medications will help a patient become motivated to participate in their own pharmaceutical care and achieve their best possible outcome.


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