Betty Chaffee, PharmD, is owner and sole proprietor of BetterMyMeds, a Medication Management service devoted to helping people get the maximum benefit from their medications.
Did you know that pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers?
Pharmacies are often open six or seven days a week, and most maintain hours that make them available to nearly everyone. Appointments aren't needed for most services and products provided by pharmacists and their well-trained staff members. Not only that, but of all the professionals on your healthcare team, pharmacists are known as the Medication Experts. Pharmacists graduate with a Doctoral degree (PharmD) and have years of college-level training; many even have a post-graduate residency. Isn't it great to have such a skilled and knowledgeable professional readily available when you're in need of health information or products?
Your community pharmacist has the knowledge to help you make decisions about treating minor ailments, preventing chronic diseases like diabetes, managing your health conditions, and staying healthy. All without yet another doctor's visit! There are plenty of research results proving that pharmacists are skilled at identifying unneeded or risky medications and working with patients and their prescribers to optimize medication regimens. Every community pharmacy has a pharmacist on duty who is knowledgeable about non-prescription products to treat minor ailments, including what symptoms to use them for, and the health problems or drug interactions that might make them a bad choice for a particular individual.
Here are some tips to get the best advice possible from your most accessible healthcare provider:
Know your pharmacist! If you use a pharmacy in your community for your prescription and other medication needs, develop a relationship with the pharmacist(s). Make an appointment annually for a medication review, so that your pharmacist has records of all your medications, allergies, immunization history, lab and home-monitoring results, and health concerns. Then when you have a question about treating a minor ailment, preventing diabetes, or needing a vaccination, your pharmacist will have your health information available to give individualized advice.
Be prepared to take a few minutes to discuss your health concerns, medications, and allergies if you need advice from a pharmacist who doesn't have access to your health information. Don't be reluctant to bring up sensitive health issues like urinary incontinence, vision changes, questions about nicotine or alcohol -- your pharmacist can help you with medication advice or point you in the right direction to find the help you need. Getting personalized health advice from a pharmacist is similar to getting advice from a physician -- in both cases the professional needs information about you in order to make recommendations that will be safe and effective. It may take a little time, but will be well worth it in the end.
Always keep an accurate and up-to-date medication list with you. Make sure every medication is listed, including supplements, vitamins, and non-prescription medications. List the dose, frequency, and reason for each item. If you don't already have one, download and print a wallet-size med list here.
Stay curious about your medications! Never assume that you still need all the same medications you've been on for years. Some medications have more side effects as people age, some medications may no longer be effective, new research may prove that a particular medication doesn't really work as well as previously thought. Talk to your pharmacist periodically to make sure your medications are doing their job and that each one has a role in keeping you healthy!
Your pharmacist is your most accessible healthcare provider, and is your medication expert. Use the knowledge and availability of your pharmacist to help you stay healthy, get the most out of your medications, and spend less money on your healthcare. If your pharmacy doesn't provide medication reviews or other medication management services, contact us today at BetterMyMeds!