Pharmacy Services: More Than Just Filling Prescriptions


By counseling patients on over-the-counter (OTC) options when appropriate and carrying durable medical equipment (DME) such as walking aids and compression socks, pharmacists can expand their range of care and bring in more customers.

Counseling patients on over-the-counter (OTC) options when appropriate and carrying durable medical equipment such as walking aids and compression socks are just some ofthe ways pharmacists can expand their range of care and bring in more customers, according to Randy McDonough, PharmD, coowner of Towncrest Pharmacy, who addressed attendees at McKesson ideaShare in a session titled Beyond Prescriptions: Working Up Patients in Need of OTC and DME Recommendations..

McDonough said nearly 7 in 10 patients have given an OTC medication to a sick child at night, and consumers spent up to $5 billion annually on OTC products. For pharmacists, pulling in those consumers can make a huge difference in their practice.

The first step toward expanding the range of care into OTC medications is being able to triage a patient who is interested in those products, McDonough explained. As the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists are often the first person a patient can go to, and the pharmacist can then determine whether that patient should be referred to a physician or if their health issue can be handled with OTC solutions.

Understanding a full medical history of the patient is crucial to fulfilling their needs, whether they’re in need of a referral or an OTC product. Getting information about their clinical presentation, any solutions they have already tried, and prior history with these symptoms can all affect a pharmacist’s recommendations. McDonough and other panelists at the meeting noted the critical role that technology can play in tracking patients' histories, keeping them in line with adherence to their suggested medication regimens, and in freeing up time for the pharmacist to advise patients accordingly.

Knowing the limitations of OTC products, is important.

For example, a patient with throat pain and white spots on their tonsils may necessitate a referral to a physician for a strep test, if the pharmacists’ state does not allow them to perform the test. However, McDonough said even if the pharmacist has to refer out for a test, there is still an opportunity for them to recommend pain relief or lozenges, as well as fluids and plenty of rest for the patient. Expanding recommendations into OTC products and understanding when to refer and when to treat can be a critical part of the pharmacist’s care.

Carrying equipment such as walkers, crutches, compression hose, or other medical devices can also provide an opportunity for pharmacists to further engage with patients and increase traffic into their stores. McDonough suggested analyzing the first thing that patients see when they walk into the pharmacy, and whether or not that product furthered sales. Rather than a rack of cards or something similar, McDonough recommended placing a display of medical devices where the patient will notice them first thing.

“This changes the perception of what we do, so you’re getting more referrals or selling more durable medical equipment just because people see it that first day walking in.”

Even if a patient already knows what OTC medication they need, McDonough said there’s always more assistance a pharmacist can provide.

“What I’m going to do is make a recommendation, help them pay for the product, help them talk about the dose and how do you take it. Those types of things help me differentiate my practice from everybody else.”

Learn more about Towncrest Pharmacy by watching the video below:

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