Cures for the ‘Common’ Pharmacy Customer: Suggestions for Improving Access to Medicines and Services
Little about the current state of the healthcare system in the United States is reassuring. The challenges many patients face in securing health insurance alone are epic in nature. Essentially, it stands to reason that access to medications and services is often so problematic at the pharmacy counter. Despite strongly divergent opinions on the causes, there is a consensus that must happen to ensure a more favorable prognosis.
The first involves spreading out the high costs of medicines throughout the course of treatment. The second revolves around introducing a reinsurance approach that specifically addresses the most expensive drug regimens, apart from routine therapies. And the third hinges on supporting measurable improvements in patient health as a means to reduce expenditures over time.
Talk About a Tylenol 3 Headache!
Yet, if you accept the premise that pharmacists have a large part to play in relieving the pressure on patients, the need for an industry-wide set of reform principles is clearly evident. For starters, there’s the competency level within the field itself, with many experts calling for pharmacists to take more active roles in the delivery of patient care—at the point-of-contact.
What if patients could select a prescription plan in collaboration with their local pharmacist? Doing so might allow them to have a greater say over what medications they take and how they manage them while assuming more responsibility for their own therapy regimens.
In general, patients have always been subject to restricted formularies that have been specifically structured to increase profits, not necessarily progress. Consider the example of specialty drugs—essentially those rare, life-saving, often experimental medications that increasingly ring the register to an enormous degree. In 2012, statistics show annual spending on specialty drugs was $87 billion in the United States. Contrast that number with projections that figure may rise to more than $400 billion by 2020 and the cause for alarm is legitimate.
Similarly, pharmacies and pharmacists themselves are facing their own numbers crunch. Many are currently experiencing shortfalls in funding for both the upfront costs in purchasing medications and the backend expenses on the administration side of the ledger. So far, no generally agreed upon strategy has surfaced, notwithstanding the clear and present danger of cost overruns at every turn.
Time to Press the Call Button—STAT!
All of it combines to make what should be the first priority for patients. Ironically, one of the difficult objectives from the beginning for pharmacists is ensuring access to the most effective medications at fair and affordable prices.
That might be a tough pill in the best of times. But today, with costs exceedingly out-of-the-control of both patients and pharmacists, the problem is magnified ten-fold. Although issues like that aren’t going away anytime soon. The heightened urgency is making for a slow, but steady push in the right direction.
Benzer Pharmacy is working to help through our own “uncommon” commitments. By improving access to pharmacy services and medications at every touchpoint, customer retention and experience enhances store traffic.
It’s not a cure, but it is just what we ordered. To learn more, visit benzerpharmacy.com.
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