Quality Patient Care Award Winner Focuses on Customer Service

Author: Daniel Weiss, Senior Editor

Like many community pharmacists, Scott Horn, PharmD, is extremely busy. Nonetheless, Dr. Horn, winner of the 2013 Walmart Pharmacist Quality Patient Care Award, makes it a point to keep up on his customers’ health conditions as well as details about their families.

“I try to focus on one patient at a time, giving them the attention they need regardless of the number of prescriptions waiting for me,” he says. “I also try to prioritize my work and utilize all my staff the best I can.”

Customers regularly praise Dr. Horn. “No matter what I need, Scott will always find a way to take care of me,” one reported. “Scott always makes time for me when I have questions,” said another. “I had no idea my doctor could prescribe a cheaper medication that would work for me,” recalled a third. “Scott called my doctor, and now I can afford the medication I need.”

This sort of feedback helps to drive Dr. Horn. “Probably the most rewarding part of being a pharmacist is when a patient or their family come into the pharmacy and let me know how much they appreciate what I or my staff has done to help them,” he says.

For a pharmacist as devoted to his customers as is Dr. Horn, the opportunity to help open a new store in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 2003, the year after he joined Walmart, was a career highlight. “This has allowed me to work and interact with patients at one site since the day the pharmacy opened,” he says. “We have many patients who have been coming to our pharmacy for numerous years, some since we first opened.”

Dr. Horn has also proved an excellent model for his staff. “He has trained a team of experts that values customer service, teamwork, and respect for the individual,” his store manager wrote in his award nomination. “He personally selects each technician, and then trains them to provide the superior customer service that he expects. He has developed an engaged team that happily works together as one cohesive unit.”

After Dr. Horn won the award, the La Crosse store was decked out with a banner for a celebration, and several of his longtime patients stopped by to say that, as far as they were concerned, he had always been the pharmacist of the year and they were glad he was getting the recognition he deserved. For his part, upon learning that he was being given the award, Dr. Horn said that the award didn’t belong to him; it belonged to his staff.

Q: What advice would you give a young pharmacist just starting out in the profession?
A: Remember the reason you chose pharmacy as a profession and to keep patients the priority. Try to learn something from every pharmacist that you have the opportunity to work with, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Q: You are known for counseling patients on their OTC product choices as well as their prescription medications. Why do you see this as an important role for pharmacists to take on?

A: We are living in the "information age" where patients can access information from a variety of sources; some of them are reliable, and others are not. Therefore, when patients ask me for assistance with OTC products, I feel it is my responsibility to counsel them with appropriate recommendations and advice on proper use.

A fairly common situation that I see is patients select an OTC product they think will work for them and then they bring it to the pharmacy to ask me about it. After asking them about their specific symptoms and medication use, the vast majority of the time I will recommend a different product that is more appropriate.