Tools Let Pharmacists Provide "Gold Standard" Counseling

AUGUST 01, 2005
Barbara Sax

Pharmacists need to keep up with a vast amount of information to properly care for their patients. At Rite Aid, pharmacists are using Gold Standard's Clinical Pharmacology tools to help them make the most of their time and expertise by putting all the drug information they need into one frontline resource.

"Pharmacists tell us they need to be successful in their practice, and we create intuitive, hands-on tools to give them fast, timely, and meaningful answers," said Russ Thomas, Gold Standard's chief executive officer.

Rite Aid pharmacist Raymond Ancypowic, RPh, said that Rite Aid's dispensing system, combined with the Clinical Pharmacology component, makes his job easier and allows him to spend more time with his patients.

"Today was a perfect example," he said. "I used the product comparison portion to find a less expensive alternative for a patient's oral contraceptive, the drug identification portion for a school nurse looking for help in identifying an unknown tablet, and the drug monograph portion to confirm a seldom-seen side effect of a drug. All this while processing 450-plus prescriptions."

"Rather than spend extensive time pouring through reference texts and journals, I have more time to spend filling prescriptions and providing consultation for my patients. The information I need is just a few mouse clicks away," said Ancypowic.

"Clinical Pharmacology is one of the first references I use when researching a drug information question," said Athena Baglio, RPh, MBA, manager of Rite Aid's Drug Information Center. "The inclusion of product photos, extensive product description search mechanisms, and ease of use make Clinical Pharmacology my reference of choice for product identification inquiries."

Baglio said the product comparison reports are especially helpful for inquiries involving inactive ingredients. "If a patient is looking for a particular generic medication but cannot tolerate lactose, I can perform a product comparison report using the active ingredient and specify that I only want a list of those products that are lactose-free. Before Clinical Pharmacology, I was forced to research the inactive ingredients of each product individually, which was time-intensive and tedious," she said.

Clinical Pharmacology encompasses several tools to make counseling patients about their medications and medical conditions easy and effective. Drug information handouts, which are specific to the product dosage forms, are helpful for educating patients about topics like a drug's common use, how it is taken, proper storage, and possible side effects and warnings. Clinical Pharmacology also provides detailed handouts for hard-to-find nutritional, herbal, and combination products.

The Consumer Drug Interaction feature is a tool pharmacists can use as a guide when counseling patients about potential interactions in their medication and dietary supplement regimen. Krames Disease Information Handouts, developed with StayWell, enable pharmacists to supply a complete counseling solution by providing educational material on medical conditions and their medications simultaneously.

"By using the monographs as a counseling tool, our pharmacists can quickly, yet thoroughly, review key points about medications with their patients and provide printed copies for patients to take home," said Baglio. "In a minimal amount of time, our patients are educated about their prescriptions, and Rite Aid's commitment to patient health is reinforced."

Clinical Pharmacology's patient counseling tools are also available in consumer-friendly, Web-based formats. "Our retail customers see the value in having consistent resources in the pharmacy and on their pharmacy Web sites to offer a full spectrum of resources for improving medication safety and compliance for their patients," said Thomas.

Susan Mamula, RPh, manager of Rite Aid's Drug Information Center, said she is particularly impressed with how Clinical Pharmacology allows her to create custom tables in its drug comparison section. "This feature is especially helpful when a pharmacist or physician would like to determine which product in a therapeutic drug class would or would not cause a specific adverse reaction," she said. Rather than look up each product individually, Mamula said she can create a table that compares as many products and adverse events as necessary. "It's a great time saver," she said.

Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Ridgewood, NJ.