According to retired pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm, the vast majority of people choose their pharmacy based on location alone. However, while location matters, it should not be the number one reason that you choose somewhere to fill your medications and counsel you on their use. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition that requires multiple medications.
Marla Ahlgrimm explains that there are five other major considerations to keep in mind when you’re choosing a pharmacy. These are:
- Clinical support. Look for a pharmacy that offers 24/7 support. Even if you can’t get in touch with somebody in person, your pharmacy should have a 24 hour telephone line that allows you to speak with someone when you need help the most.
- Convenience. This is where location comes in, but location isn’t the only convenience factor to consider. You might also look for a pharmacy that makes it easy to fill your prescriptions. This could be dropping them off in the drive-through or utilizing a mobile app. Whichever is best for you is exactly what you need.
- Cost. All pharmacies are not the same where cost is concerned. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that some have lower overhead and can, therefore, charge lower prices. The same is true of specialty pharmacies, which may order more medications from a certain provider and get a discount, which may then be passed on to its customers. You also want to talk to your pharmacy to make sure that they offer plenty of generics and 90-day supply options, or if they have coupons that may help you trim your expenses.
- Confidentiality. Marla Ahlgrimm says that pharmacies are required to maintain patient confidentiality. However, many retail locations have an open area where others may hear you consult with your pharmacist. Before choosing a pharmacy, ask if they have a private room for consultations, if necessary. This is especially important if you have embarrassing or private issues you’d like to discuss outside of earshot.
- Credibility. How long has your chosen pharmacy been in business? Marla Ahlgrimm says that new pharmacies can be great, but at least make sure that the pharmacist and support staff have ample experience and reputation for delivering quality and compassionate care.
Types Of Pharmacy
The above information mostly pertains to community or retail pharmacies. However, Marla Ahlgrimm says it’s important to understand that these are not the only types of pharmacies, and, depending on your specific needs, you may have other options. These include:
- Hospital pharmacy. If you are admitted into the hospital, chances are that your prescriptions will be filled at the hospital-direct pharmacy. Marla Ahlgrimm says not all hospitals offer retail services for their pharmacies, but it might be worth looking into if you already have experience with the staff there.
- Clinical pharmacy. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that a clinical pharmacy is usually attached to a healthcare clinic. These pharmacists work closely with your healthcare providers, including your physicians and nurses, to come up with a holistic care plan that can benefit your overall well-being.
- Compounding pharmacy. Marla Ahlgrimm worked in the compounding pharmacy industry for more than four decades before her retirement. She explains that these types of pharmacies are an excellent option if you have unusual needs. For example, if you’re allergic to a specific ingredient in a commercial drug or you have a small child that needs a liquefied version of an adult-only medication. Compounding pharmacies are also an excellent option for women going through menopause who need custom hormone therapy.