Engaging Questions – Missouri Pharmacy Adherence Month

Here’s a startling statistic: Most patients forget up to 80 percent of what their physician tells them as soon as they leave the office, and nearly 50 percent of what they do remember is recalled incorrectly.

While often it takes hearing the same message several times for something to sink in, the source can make all the difference. In an attempt to demonstrate their commitment to adherence, several chain pharmacies have rolled out sophisticated technologies for refill reminders, including automated phone calls. Could you imagine receiving a prerecorded call from a nameless, faceless electronic voice telling you a prescription you never ordered is ready for pick-up?

This is where community pharmacists thrive, by taking care of patients with high-touch service. To borrow a mantra from Fritz McGinnis, “Do what we do best, and do it better than anybody else.” It doesn’t have to be in the form of an in-depth counseling session; simply having a dialogue with your patients at the counter about their health can make all the difference. Let them know you’re not there simply as an extension of the prescriber to tell them what to do. Instead, you’re available as a trusted resource with genuine interest in their well-being.

By engaging your patients in such conversations, you will empower them to take charge of their own health. The following are some simple questions you can ask your patients to gauge how much (and well) they understand their therapy, whether it’s the first or fifteenth fill:

• What did your doctor tell you the medication is for?
• How often are you taking this medication?
• How were you told to take this medication (and what do you do if you miss a dose)?
• What were you told to expect from the medication (side effects, improvement of symptoms, etc.)?
• What have you experienced so far?

Tell your patients, “I’m on your team. If I have to sound like a broken record for you to stay on your medications, I will.” Something tells us they’d prefer the sound of your voice to an automated message any day.

Reprinted with permission from National Community Pharmacists Association in the October 2010 issue of America’s Pharmacist. For more information about NCPA, visit www.ncpanet.org.

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