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    Close the pharmacy

    You did not misread that. You misinterpreted it. Pharmacies used to be hidden. Pharmacists were accessible if they walked out to you, which we often did, and we were more valued as a result. You could no more stare at us over the tops of the shelves than you could hear us whispering on the phone in a corner.

    Times have changed. While the whole open floor plan concept works great if you’re building a house, it does not suit the pharmacy. I say, close it.

    See also: Electronic prescriptions: Return to sender

    Not a zoo

    We are truly just a few metal bars and a coin-operated food dispenser away from being animals in a zoo. People stare at us. They yell at us from anywhere in the store. They throw stuff at us. They put their kids on our counters. I swear someone took my picture at my last store too. Seriously. What other profession allows its professionals to be treated like this?

    I say, close it. If the "centralized pharmacist" concept is going to work, arrange for the rest of it happen behind the scenes. That way, when I have three techs, each on a phone line, and I am checking something, no one can smart off by saying, "There's four people back there not helping me." Bugger off. Now you see me, now you don't.

    I want the pharmacist to be the focal point. I want to perform my professional duties. You just don't need to know what else goes on. If anything, put us back on our elevated platforms.

    Stay tuned: Part 2 from The Cynical Pharmacist will appear Saturday, September 19 in your Community Pharmacists' Special Report from Drug Topics

    Put up a wall

    Close the pharmacy. Put up a wall. Put a pharmacist out front in a consultation room or at the counter in a chair. Give her an iPad to assist patients while their medications are being filled. Slow down the whole process.

    We need to focus on the professional aspect of our jobs. We need to focus on our knowledge, on why we spent so much time and money at school. If we stop trying to squeeze blood from a desiccated idea (profit margin on pills?), then we can look at new ways of highlighting our place in the healthcare world and getting paid for it.

    Doctors enjoy an insular experience, hiding behind layers of staff and walls. They visit with patients one-on-one, privately reviewing medical history, diagnoses, and treatments. Pharmacy needs to examine this concept.

    The Cynical Pharmacist
    Follow The Cynical Pharmacist at www.facebook.com/thecynicalpharmacist and at www.thecynicalpharmacist.blogspot.com.

    9 Comments

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    • Anonymous
      What a great concept... not to get Apple to invest in a line of retail pharmacies..
    • Anonymous
      It's an interesting idea, for more on this, check out Eugene White. The idea of a physician style pharmacy is not new. Eugene White pioneered this in the 1970s, it just never took off. There are some neat JAPhA articles about his model and ideas.
    • Anonymous
      Dear Close it… Maybe we need to unionize? I understand your disillusionment with the profession of pharmacy. I started practicing pharmacy about 1970 in the community. It was a friendly, personal and rewarding experience. We took care of people, friends, and neighbors, not just put out prescriptions by the hundreds every day. Over the years many decision were made that resulted in changing the environment of this profession. Such as, pharmacies not being owned by pharmacist. Once the bean counters got into the profession, it stopped being a profession and more a business, only concerned about the bottom line. Furthermore, now with socialized medicine upon us, I fear it is only going to get worse. Many changes need to be made to preserve what we have left of the “Most Trusted Profession” in this country. You point out some of them, and other suggestions have been made as well. For example, MTM services. We have the education and ability to provide professional services, but I think we lost control of our profession to the MBAs, CEOs and accountants. More degrees are not the answer. I have always been a big supporter of our professional organizations, on a local, state, and national level. Unfortunately, I do not think they can facilitate the changes required, nor eliminate the problems facing the pharmacist in the trenches. I speak of the increases in the work load, decrease in supportive personnel, and the long hours without lunch, nor a break at all. Well, we all know what the situation looks like. I never imagined I would say this but, I think unionizing maybe what we need to make the changes needed to bring us back into a more professional environment. We need a strong union that can stand up the corporate big boys that now dominate and control our profession, not theirs. Their profession, nor livelihood is not on the line when errors occur. I am sure you have read some of the many stories of how we are being abused by the corporate leadership. We need someone who is going to stand up for us. We need a UNION. Sincerely yours, Tony of New York and Pennyslvania
    • MelissaHorgan
      Please, please run for president!! This is the best idea I've heard in a long, long time. I believe this is what most patients are looking for!! This is what I went to school for. I did not ever intend to work at Mcdonalds, and it just doesn't serve it's purpose in healthcare today.
    • MelissaHorgan
      Please, please run for president!! This is the best idea I've heard in a long, long time. I believe this is what most patients are looking for!! This is what I went to school for. I did not ever intend to work at Mcdonalds, and it just doesn't serve it's purpose in healthcare today.
    • MelissaHorgan
      Please, please run for president!! This is the best idea I've heard in a long, long time. I believe this is what most patients are looking for!! This is what I went to school for. I did not ever intend to work at Mcdonalds, and it just doesn't serve it's purpose in healthcare today.
    • Anonymous
      It sounds like a great idea. I would absolutely love to see this happen. Alas, we must come back to the real world and figure out who we charge. You say bill the insurance and if the insurance doesn't pay bill the patient directly. As long as there are options for the patient to use such as The Big 3, the patient who is already spending more than they think is fair will just go to them. Will "The Big 3" go along with this? Will they go to the forefront and willingly make these changes? If I remember right, the $4.00 for a 30 days supply of medication was one of "The Big 3". In my humble opinion, this predatory type way of doing business was one of the worst things to happen to retail pharmacy, ever. This is why I am happy to make $.30 on a prescription. I clap for joy. It makes me giddy knowing that for once I am not losing money on filling a prescription. Will they go to this closed pharmacy format. Not a chance. Will insurances pay for the services involved in this concept. Not a chance. They will just make the patient pay more. The patient will be the one forced to make the decision to either pay more, go to "The Big 3", or go mail order in order to afford the medication. Medications have become so expensive that they can't afford to pay out of pocket for them. MTM was supposed to be the big jump to get pharmacists paid for professional services. I have been performing MTM services as a SOP for as long as I can remember. Is the insurance that pays me the $.30 going to pay me more for MTM? Possibly but how often. Right now the MTM services that are reimbursed by insurances are paid for annually.
    • Anonymous
      I agree with this writter's article 100%. Pharmacy has begun to turn the corner professionally with the advent and promise of real professional services. However, the chain pharmacies continue to tarnish the profession with individuals who are in charge of our profession, many who are MBA's and many who are non-pharmacists (some pharmacists as well, to be honest). Unless, and until, the profession moves away from being a cash register operator and moves rapidly toward becoming a professional pharmacist our public perception and our job satisfaction will continue to erode. This comment from a chain pharmacist who only days ago, while working without a tech, without a cashier was faced with a close of day rush with several new prescriptions and two patients requesting Zostavax immunizations, both new to the store, requiring that all data be downloaded into the system, bill the services, and administer said injections. Oh, and one customer seeing this situation, asked "Can I ring this up here?"---an energy drink, a roll of paper towels, and a can of air freshener. When I very kindly recommended he purchase these goods up front where a cashier was on duty, due to the fact that I had patients waiting on prescriptions and immunizations, he set the items down on the nearest shelf and walked away.
    • Mr. JMAZUR
      Slow down the process!! Good luck. The BIG 3 say speed up,do more shots, more MTM and Oh by the way ,we are cutting your tech help again, because our profits are down due to the ridiculous PBM contracts we signed. That's the pharmacist fault? Thanks for your efforts working like a dog,in keeping our CEO's salaries in the millions. Just talked to a pharmacist who did 400 scripts in a day. One pharmacist. 400 scripts! And don't you dare make a mistake. We have SOP's in place for error prevention. Read them in your "spare time" and see if you think corporate has your back. So glad I am at a great independent to work at for my last few years. It is like going back in time to what I remember pharmacy should be and the reason I became a pharmacist. I really feel sorry for the young grads. The Pharmacy Society's and Boards of Pharmacy everywhere have let us all down. They all know how hazardous retail pharmacy is and do nothing to make it a safer place for the patients. Please stick together to make Pharmacy a profession again.