When most people are asked how they chose their pharmacist, the most often cited reason is location. While this is an important element, it should not be the deciding factor when the health of your family is on the line.
Choosing the right pharmacist should be done with the same level of care as you would choose a general physician. You want someone who not only knows how to successfully operate a pharmacy, but also doesn’t lose the personal touch while they are at it.
Here are a few other points that you should look for in a pharmacy besides location.
Trust is a hard value to measure. It’s one of those attributes that you only fully notice when you are not feeling it toward a service provider. To help determine whether you should place your trust in your pharmacist, check to see what others have said about them. Look at online reviews. Are the pharmacists courteous? Do they answer questions patiently? Do they ever make customers feel like they shouldn’t be asking questions?
The ability to ask questions and feel comfortable with doing so speaks of how well a pharmacist has done his or her job. A good pharmacist can give you advice on what other drugs you can take alongside your prescriptions and what medication to avoid. So choosing someone you feel comfortable talking with is an important aspect of choosing the right pharmacist. Outside of reading reviews, the only way to figure this out is to visit a pharmacy and strike up a conversation with the resident pharmacist. It’s a time-consuming task, but a step worth taking.
- Insurance coverage.
Prescription drugs can be expensive. This is particularly true if the pharmacy you are frequenting doesn’t accept your insurance plan. Before you settle on a pharmacy, find out if they carry your insurance plan for prescription medication. There will likely be some fluctuation in your lifetime regarding your prescription insurance. So make sure that the pharmacy you are considering accepts a wide range of insurance packages.
- A wide stock of generic drugs.
Somewhat along the same lines as the point above. An important measure of a good pharmacist is whether they carry a wide range of generic drugs. Using generic drugs cuts your medical bill to at least two thirds. But if the pharmacy you want to frequent doesn’t stock them, then you’ll end up paying more, just for a quick purchase. Take a look at your current prescription medication, as well as a list of average medications used in your household in a year. Print that list out and go to the pharmacy you are considering. Ask them to point out any that they do not have in stock.
- A private area for consultations.
Ever wished you could discuss something with your pharmacist without passersby overhearing? In 2003, Congress passed an act that, among other things, ensures your right to a private consultation when requested. Pharmacies that comply with HIPPA should have a sign stating so on their door. This little change makes a world of difference when needing to discuss sensitive matters.
Location and convenience do matter. But they should not be the only lines of consideration. If your nearby pharmacy also meets your requirements in the above areas, you have found yourself a winner. But if a pharmacy that is conveniently located doesn’t carry your insurance plan. Or if it doesn’t sell the medication that your family frequently uses. Or if the resident pharmacist is curt and you feel uncomfortable discussing your medical needs with her or her, you would be wise to go elsewhere.
Choosing the right pharmacist is a decision that should be made carefully and with intention. Not simply based on convenience. A small investment in finding the right fit could help you cut down on medical costs and other difficulties in the future.