Considering the fact that we have many unemployed, underemployed or employed but unhappy pharmacists, I would like to run this idea by participants on the forum.
I have practiced Pharmacy both in the US and abroad and the frustration experienced by Pharmacists are the same. Very few pharmacists get employment opportunities that relate to what we were trained for.
My idea is – Pharmacists acting as Personal Medication Consultants for a fee.
I know that historically, Pharmacists have given out professional advice for free and although we are one of the few (if not the only) professionals that do this, I think there was a reason behind it. A long time ago, a pharmacist could charge a reasonable mark-up (as high as 60% in some countries) because medications were not too expensive.
The clientele were usually local and loyal, so the pharmacist did not need to charge any fee for an extra consultation. If the customer did not buy anything at that visit, the Pharmacist was guaranteed a later visit in the future.
Fast forward to the present day; the mark-ups are slim and a repeat customer visit in not guaranteed due to fierce competition and insurance restrictions. However, patients need more medication consultation now, more than ever before. A recent study in 2018 estimated annual cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality resulting from non-optimized medication therapy was $528.4 billion, equivalent to 16% of total US health care expenditures in 2016 (Watanabe, McInnis & Hirsch 2018).
The practice Model- (Can be implemented by individual Pharmacists or by a Healthcare Organization)
Create a website where the pharmacist(s) would actively teach about the safe and responsible use of medications by posting articles, blogs and videos.
The public/customers will have the ability to set up a medication profile and check side effects, drug-drug interactions, drug-disease interactions, and drug-allergy interactions.
The public/customers will have the ability to email non-urgent questions to pharmacist at a fee.
Feedback I got from colleagues, friends and family.
- People can get information from the internet. Why would they pay a Pharmacist?
I worked for a mail order pharmacy for over 13 years and my duties included patient counseling. I know that people still want a professional opinion when they have medical questions. The internet answers can be very general or ambiguous.
2. How much would you charge?
I thought of charging $30/month subscription but everyone said that was too much. I finally settled for $9.99/month subscription for a basic plan.
3. Medicare already has a similar program
Medicare patients are not the target market. Why do we pay for Amazon prime? Jeff Bezos took a chance that people want faster shipping. Pharmacist can take a chance that the public wants personal medication counseling.
4. Patients get personal medication counseling when they pick up their medications or can call their pharmacy and do it over the phone.
We Pharmacist should begin to value our time and expertise. Even our auto mechanics no longer give free advice. Concerning the patient’s history and current medications, we teach the patient how to set up an open source medication profile which includes all medications being used, allergies and health conditions. This would be a good frame of reference for the patient and Pharmacist. The patient has access to this medication profile even when not subscribed to our service.
What do you think?
I know this is not a widespread idea yet, but a few independent pharmacists seem to be trying it. If Pharmacists can adopt it in large numbers, we may catch the attention of the public. They need us to educate them on medication use but they are not even aware of it.
Remember – A Pharmacist has an understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of drugs, drug uses, therapeutic roles, side effects, potential drug interactions, and monitoring parameters.
My sample website is mywebpharmacist.com I would like to hear opinions.