Choosing the Right Pharmacy
If you’re relatively healthy (knock on wood), choosing a pharmacy may be a matter of convenience. What’s closest to your home or work, for instance. But if you’re a senior taking multiple medications, or have a chronic illness, it pays to choose a pharmacy where you can get to know the pharmacist, and they can get to know you.
In these days where you can almost find a drugstore on every corner, how do you choose between the big box stores, the discount warehouses and your independent pharmacy?
Things to look for in a pharmacy:
- A pharmacist who is easy to contact and talk to. The pharmacist should be easy to talk to and available to answer your questions. If they’re not available, or always seem in a hurry, take your business elsewhere. Ask the drugstore if they have a private consultation area if you don’t want to talk about your health concerns out in the open.
- A short wait to pick up prescriptions. Some of the big box stores have the pharmacy way in the back, with a line of people waiting. Your independent pharmacy is more likely to have a shorter wait, if there is a wait at all.
- The drugs you need are in stock. Some big box stores and grocery chains only order drugs on a set schedule. Independent pharmacies are more likely to reorder drugs the same day they run out, or reorder when the supply is running low.
- Cost comparison. Don’t pay too much. This is an area where the big box stores may have an advantage if you pay out of pocket. But if you have health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid, your prescription co-pay will be the same at an independent pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist about discount programs for seniors or students, or if there is a discount for filling a 90-day prescription.
- This is another area where the chains and supermarkets have an advantage over independent pharmacies. If you work odd hours and need to pick up your prescriptions at night, or very early morning after a late shift, the larger drugstore chains may be for you. Most independent pharmacies keep daytime / early evening hours.
- The pharmacy / drugstore offers preventative care. You’d be amazed at the number of vaccinations you can get at your pharmacy. Just like your doctor’s office, they will coordinate payment with your insurance. Many immunizations are available with no co-pay.
- Your pharmacist is keeping tabs on your health. Your pharmacist should always be aware of all medications you are taking, so they can be on the lookout for adverse drug interactions. They should also be making sure you take your medications safely and consistently.
- Multiple options for refills. You should be able to call in a refill, as well as request a refill online. These days, almost everyone has a smart phone, tablet or laptop, and it’s convenient to check the number of refills remaining, place a new order, designate a time for pickup, and ask to be notified when your prescription is ready.
- Individualized services are available. Many pharmacies will put your pills in blister packs to help you see at a glance that a dose has been taken. They can also group multiple prescriptions based on the time of day they need to be taken. Independent pharmacies also offer compounding, or custom-mixing services, which allow them to tailor your medication to you. Examples include making a liquid formula for people who have trouble swallowing pills, or making a medication without a dye for people who are allergic.
If you value customer service and personalized attention, an independent pharmacy is your best bet. If you like rewards programs, a big box chain may be for you. If you value one-stop shopping, your supermarket pharmacy could be the answer.
If you’re thinking of switching pharmacies and you have multiple prescriptions, let the pharmacist handle the transfers. Most of the work of transferring prescriptions, including refills, is done electronically. Prescriptions for controlled substances may not transfer, so you would need to ask your doctor for a new prescription.
Once you complete the paperwork, which will include a profile of you and your family members, illnesses, allergies, insurance information, etc. be sure to notify all of your doctor’s offices. This will save confusion in the future. Once the transfer is made, fill all of your prescriptions at the new location.
Papermill Pharmacy would love to be your pharmacy of choice. Our pharmacists make it a point to get to know you and your medical situation. We are a compounding pharmacy and can customize medications for your situation.