If you are on prescription medications of any sort, you’re probably familiar with one of the major pain points of American healthcare: the pharmacy. Running to the pharmacy to pick up your medications is an errand many would prefer to avoid. Between waiting in line behind someone buying lottery tickets, someone else getting their blood pressure taken, a family getting their flu shots and Sally Lots o’ Questions, a simple visit to a large chain can take more than an hour.
Instead of waiting, more Americans are relying on services such as Medly to pick up their prescriptions and drop them off at their home, office, or wherever they may be. But however you decide to manage your prescription drug care, one of the most important aspects to the pharmacy is consistency.
You should be using the same pharmacy every time. What you may not know is why. Here are three important questions your pharmacist can help you answer with efficiency and accuracy, especially if you are using the same pharmacist every time.
A pharmacist will review your medication to make sure it is your information on the prescription, from date of birth to name. They can answer whether or not your new medication is safe to take with your current medications. They can even tell you whether or not your new medication will interfere with any of the over-the-counter medications you commonly take.
Other questions that will help you determine whether or not your medication is right for you include whether your medication needs to be taken at a specific time of day. If the medication can be crushed and mixed with food (for example, for a child or a tricky patient), your pharmacist can also let you know.
Finally, you should ask what the medication is for. In the unfortunate case that your doctor has sent in the wrong prescription, your pharmacist will help you avoid taking medication for an illness you don’t actually have.
A pharmacist who is familiar with your health issues can help prevent you from taking duplicate medications addressing the same issue. They will know your health history and have a local record of it at their pharmacy, making it easy for them to double-check this issue.
You should always inform the pharmacist of whether or not you are allergic to a given medication. While modern pharmacy software can do an incredible job of tracking allergies and drug interactions, it is not always up to date. Depending on what software your pharmacy uses, the pharmacy may obtain information on allergies and interactions every time or it may not pull anything up at all.
For this reason, you should always inform your pharmacist every time of whether you have any allergies to medication. Using the same pharmacist every time can help you avoid any allergy-related drug interactions, because your pharmacist will remember you and have your health information locally on file.
You want to let your pharmacist know all of the medications you are taking, whether prescription or over-the-counter. This includes pain relievers such as Aleve and Tylenol as well as their generic equivalents. You should also inform your pharmacist if you are taking any herbal supplements. For example, some drugs will not work as well if you drink grapefruit juice, which is important for your pharmacist to be aware of.
Finally, you want to let your pharmacist know what illnesses you currently have, especially if you are in treatment for them. If you hop between pharmacists, you may not have a consistent record of your disease states and treatment plans. If you have a regular pharmacist, they will record your information, remember you and be better-equipped to deal with your questions. This is especially true if you have used them as a resource before.
“Medly is very different from other pharmacies,” says supervising pharmacist Jacky Zhang at Medly Pharmacy. “We’re very personalized. If something’s not covered, we work very hard to get it covered, because not all alternatives are equal. We try to push out what the doctor originally wants.
“By using just one pharmacy, we get to know you the best and it makes it easier and better for you. If we know you well, we can better dispense more accurately, so if I see something new, I’ll say ‘weren’t you on something else that’s similar?’ and it will help with drug-to-drug interaction or detecting if there are any therapeutic problems. We have a team that works closely with doctors to find out what is the best therapy for you.”