Choosing the best pharmacy for you and your family is as important as choosing the right doctor. Pharmacists play a crucial role in helping gauge the best plan for your health, and research shows that the average person sees their pharmacist 7 to 10x more often than their doctor. In addition to filling prescriptions, pharmacists are consulted to:
Provide medication reviews
-Educate on a number of health conditions
-Offer health and wellness solutions
The list of services offered at a local independent pharmacy is continually growing and evolving to best serve our communities. Pharmacists work closely with local prescribers to ensure our patients have all the information and guidance needed to live a long and healthy life. Take advantage of the numerous ways your independent pharmacy can help.
When choosing your pharmacy, it is important to find one that can fulfill all your healthcare needs. Using multiple pharmacies may result in negative interactions or side effects as each pharmacy team will not have the full picture of your medication regimen.
What to Look for in a Pharmacy
Finding the right pharmacy for you does not need to be a long or difficult process. To make things simpler, start by asking yourself some basic questions.
Does your pharmacist take the time to talk with you about your medications and answer your questions?
Does your pharmacy team offer a variety of health and wellness services such as immunizations, diabetes management, asthma control or other health related offerings?
Does the pharmacy team seem genuinely interested in you and your family’s health care needs?
Does your pharmacy offer recommendations on over-the-counter products and inform you which ones NOT to take with your prescription?
These are all things that most locally owned, independent, pharmacies offer. Remember, it is not always about the fastest/most convenient option. Your health and the health of your family is important. You deserve more than settling for the chain pharmacy near your home or office simply because it is convenient.
Local Pharmacy vs Mail Order
The convenience of getting your medications delivered in the mail may seem like a perk, but there are some significant risks associated with it. Did you know that some medications lose their effectiveness if left in too hot or too cold of temperatures? What if your prescription gets delayed or lost? An article from CAS states, “While mailing a prescription may sound routine, most patients forced to wait for these services are those with complex or life-threatening conditions such as cancer. Delaying these treatments can have serious repercussions for these patients’ health and potentially lessens their outlook.”1 Before opting in to receiving your medications via mail order, compare the perceived convenience to the benefits of working with a local pharmacy.
- One-on-One Medication Counseling Through mail-order services there is no way of knowing who is filling your prescription from month to month. It may not even be a pharmacist filling it. The lack of 2-way communication puts you at higher risk because they may not be aware of changes in your health status or any medication side affects you may be experiencing. Your pharmacist should help you feel comfortable asking him/her questions about your health and can offer a faster response to your medication needs.
- Customized Care Mail order pharmacies are only able to provide the medications themselves. Local pharmacies offer a variety of complementary services to address your whole health. Providing recommendations on supplements, access to a pharmacist who is able to answer any questions or issues that may arise, and regular follow ups to ensure you get the quality care you deserve.
- Accurate Refills When receiving your medications in the mail, you are accepting multiple risks that are completely out of your control. What happens if your doctor forgets to send in your prescription or refills for a few days? Now, not only do you not have your medications, but you will also have to wait days/weeks for them to arrive. Alternatively, mail order companies may have outdated information and automatically send you refills for medications you no longer need. Now you have a large supply of medications on hand, increasing your risk of taking the wrong medication.
Independent Pharmacy vs Chain Pharmacy
Often people list convenience as the number one reason they choose a chain over an independent pharmacy. Whether it is their hours of operation open or a larger selection of products to choose from, the flexibility they offer is just about the only benefit they provide compared to independent pharmacies. According to a 2018 Consumer Reports’ survey, “Independent pharmacies earned high scores on such measures as courtesy, helpfulness, and speed of checkout and filling prescriptions, as well as pharmacists’ knowledge and accuracy. At the bottom, large national chain pharmacies.”2
Let’s review some of the myths and misconceptions about independent pharmacies compared to chain pharmacies.
- They are more expensive: According to that same Consumer Reports’ survey, independent pharmacies do better than big chain drugstores with regards to cost. Members who went to independent pharmacies were also more likely to report that the pharmacist suggested a lower-cost drug—21 percent—while only nine percent reported chain pharmacists offering them a lower-price option. Worse, national chains tended to have some of the highest out-of-pocket prices. While prices at independents fell in the middle, CR members said they found the lowest prices at Costco. CR secret shoppers found that some independent and grocery store pharmacies can offer even lower prices than Costco—you will just need to call around in your area and ask for their "cash" or retail price.3
- They do not have what I need: Overall, 21 percent of Consumer Reports members reported that a drug they needed was out of stock in the past year. As a group, independents were more likely than other types of pharmacies to fill the prescription later that same day or the next. Members who used an independent pharmacist were also far more likely to say that the pharmacy went out of its way to fill prescriptions faster; 41 percent of people said that happened at independent pharmacies vs. just 20 percent at pharmacy chains.3
- They do not take my insurance: Every year, independent pharmacies must combat the misconception that, because they are small, they do not accept most insurance. Larger insurance companies, many of which own pharmacies themselves, spend a lot of time and money each year telling patients that they are required to use certain pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. Oftentimes, you can use a local pharmacy, you just do not know it. Before taking the word of your insurance provider, call your local pharmacy to see what your copay is.
The bottom line is that locally owned, independent pharmacies have a lot to offer their communities. They are resilient, flexible, and 100% invested in their communities. Independent pharmacies, as a community, continue to lead the way in innovations and expertise to help patients manage the daily and long-term challenges of drug therapies and disease states. They provide high quality care, generate jobs and tax revenue for their community and dedicate their lives to supporting local. As a member of the local independent pharmacy community, we are your trusted medication experts, and look forward to serving you and your family.