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Dispensing Knowledge in a Bottle

In a time when governments struggle to contain growing health care costs, and patients face increasingly high costs for health services and prescription drugs, media reports will often scrutinize the cost of health care services. Recently, pharmacy has been in the news as governments scale back the price they will pay for generic medications. This can lead patients to question the price pharmacists charge for their prescription medications.

Patients may not realize the fee a pharmacist charges with each prescription covers much more than just that medication. They may not know it goes towards paying pharmacist and technician salaries, shipping supplies from manufacturers, delivery services, online prescription refill programs, counseling on over-the-counter medications, free patient care services such as monitoring blood pressure and smoking cessation counseling, and time the pharmacists spend doing other activities like calling doctors for prescription clarifications and third-party insurance companies for billing issues.

But pharmacists do so much more than just dispense products. They spend time making sure their patients are on the best medications for their condition, and they work with physicians and nurses to control chronic diseases. They’re often available after hours to offer advice on treating minor ailments and selecting the safest and most effective over-the-counter medications. Pharmacists provide cost savings to health care organizations by preventing adverse drug reactions and optimizing medication regimens.

To remain a respected member of the health care team, pharmacists need to focus on personalized patient care rather than product dispensing.  Making sure to document patient care consultations, asking patients how their medications are working for them, or offering risk assessments during clinic days, are all ways to ensure that patients can see the benefits of pharmacy services. Not only will these services improve patient understanding of pharmacists and how pharmacists can help, but they will also support comprehensive, patient-centred care.

Thanks for joining us,

Chelsea Barr,
University of Waterloo Pharmacy Student
Winter Co-op Student, Professional and Membership Affairs