Examples of patient counseling by pharmacists to help their patients are everywhere. Every day new opportunities arise for pharmacists to interact with customers and ensure that the public they serve is advised and educated properly regarding their medications. This not only applies to a patient’s prescriptions, but also to the OTC (over the counter) medications and DME devices and equipment that the patient uses. The public has a right to the latest and most up to date information to ensure that they get the best therapeutic results possible, plus get the most value for their healthcare dollars. In the end, isn’t that really what all healthcare providers want for their patients?
Mandated Patient Counseling
In a recent discussion of the new Mandated Patient Counseling by the State of Illinois, we discussed the new legislation that effectively mandates verbal interaction required of a pharmacist when a prescription is dispensed under certain conditions. As discussed, the new law in Illinois mandates that the RPh must provide verbal counseling in the following instances:
1. When any prescription is dispensed to a new patient.
2. When any new medications are dispensed to an existing patient.
3. When any prescription medication that the patient has previously been receiving has been changed by the prescribing doctor. This includes any changes in directions, dose, dosage form, strength or route of administration.
Although the new Illinois legislation takes patient counseling by pharmacists to a new level, providing consultation services to patients has become a requirement of doing business for pharmacies and pharmacists. It is a part of the job and in the best interests of the consumers and the public. It is a requirement in most states that cannot be ignored. In Florida for example, Chapter 465 of the Florida Statutes pertaining to pharmacy clearly states that the RPh must always offer to provide counseling on dispensing any prescription to the patient, either orally or in writing.
Yet the question remains: Is this enough? If the answer is no, then two things must happen.
1. Pharmacists must be willing to be more available and communicative in regards to patient access. Again, as previously discussed, it is typical of today’s prescription processing and dispensing that a patient never actually interacts with the pharmacist. Dropping off the Rx at the counter to a technician and picking up the prescription at check-out from the clerk, the patient is asked if they require counseling, but in most cases decline. If one thinks about counseling patients regarding OTC medications, how often does a customer see a pharmacist available to talk to or actually ask them any questions? The common perception by the general public is that going to the busy prescription counter to ask about an OTC product is obtrusive and interrupting the “busy” RPh (especially if there is a line of patients waiting to pick up or drop off their prescriptions).
2. Pharmacists must keep educated and up-to-date on all healthcare issues and drugs. Not only on those legend medications “behind the counter”, but all OTC products. This includes vitamins, antacids, cold remedies, herbal alternatives and all of the products commonly sold in a pharmacy without a prescription to treat a patient’s common ailments.
Some Examples of Opportunities For Patient Counseling By Pharmacists
Below are the latest results and information for treatment and discussion of the most commonly seen topics that patients may be looking to get OTC medications to treat or have questions for the pharmacist about. We highly recommend that every RPh take a few moments to review them all.
- Tips for the parents of children or infants to help manage vomiting: Click here.
- Remedies for tough coughs during the cold season: Click here.
- The effectiveness of this year’s flu shot: Click here.
- Obesity in kids and children: Click here.
- Evaluation of the top Medication Reminder apps for smartphones: Click here.
- Using salt solutions and soy sauce to treat burns: Click here.
- Is the “Man Flu” for real?: Click here.
- How common kitchen spices and herbs can help you live longer: Click here.
Obviously this is just a “sampling” of some recent information regarding common topics that provide a pharmacist with the opportunity to help patients. Every RPh should make a diligent effort to be as up-to-date as possible on all topics that a patient or their family member may have questions about.
Repercussions of Not Providing Proper Patient Counseling
Many of us may still remember the lawsuits back in 2013 and 2014 when both CVS and Rite Aid were cited for non-adherence to pharmacy consultation legislation. In the case involving Rite Aid, an investigation revealed that Rite Aid’s pharmacists neglected to offer and perform consultations with patients at their California locations. Rite Aid settled the lawsuit by agreeing to pay an estimated $500,000, plus document that they offered patient consultation to all of their patients who received new medications or existing prescriptions where the prescriber made any changes.
In the case against CVS, the chain-store giant was accused in a lawsuit that patient consultations were performed by improper personnel, or that consultations simply were not even offered. As in the Rite Aid case, CVS settled by paying over $650,000, plus agreeing to provide documentation that all patients would be offered appropriate medication counseling to comply with all legal requirements.
Does your pharmacy have written policies and procedures in place regarding patient and medication counseling? Do you ensure that patients have convenient access to speak with the pharmacist regarding their prescriptions? Is your staff properly trained and able to document that consultation services were actually offered and/or provided? If not, then contact HCC today to see how we can help.
Healthcare Consultants is a full service pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 28 years. HCC has been helping pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with issues such as Patient Consultation Services since 1989. Just a few examples of our services include:
HCC strongly urges you to be prepared. Contact us on line or call us today (800) 434-1652 for a Free Consultation to discuss how we can help you.