Back to Basics: Take Time for Patient Care


Do productivity metrics get in the way of patient education?

My wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to be on vacation in New York City last week visiting our daughter.

Our daughter’s flat is conveniently located around 20 minutes away by foot from our rented space. We have gotten to know this area well, since we walked along this route at least once, if not twice, each day.

During our walks, I came to recognize and remember how simple and enjoyable this form of transportation can be. You can slow down long enough to greet people with a simple hello while passing, as well as notice all of the store fronts along the various routes.

It was during these walks that I realized there are more small community pharmacies in this city than I have ever seen anywhere else in the country. Every corner I turned, there was another pharmacy. Interestingly, these are not large chain stores, but rather small independent pharmacies or boutique versions of a corporate chain store.

Taking some time to walk through quite a few of these stores yields a surprisingly original pharmacy experience. Most of the stores have only 1 pharmacist behind the counter. However, these pharmacists don't appear to be overly stressed with work, and there aren’t lines of people waiting at the counter. The pharmacists are available for consultation, and the atmosphere is pleasant.

Different stores offer varying levels of services. However, I did not get the impression that it was the main goal of the pharmacy to sell everyone who came in an immunization of some sort or sign them up on an auto refill mail order program in order to maximize numbers and meet productivity standards. Instead, the feel and impression was one of community involvement and patient education.

As we move into this new spring season, let's take a step back and evaluate what role we play in the profession of pharmacy. Yes, it is vitally important for the profession to continue to move forward with the ever-expanding role of the pharmacist. However, we must never let that expanding role get in the way of our relationship with our patients.

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