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Providing Care Beyond the Counter

The majority of patients and caregivers see pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in the retail setting behind the counter running around the pharmacy, talking on the phones, looking at their computers, counting out medications, and talking with patients and caregivers at the consultation window. What they don’t see are the various tasks these individuals are doing beyond the counter to ensure the safe dispensing of yours and your loved ones’ medications.

When you see a pharmacy technician talking on the phone, you are likely witnessing one of the following:

  1. A call to the insurance company to get a prior authorization approved for your medication. Without insurance approval, patients would pay a large amount of money out of pocket; 
  2. A follow-up call to the doctor’s office regarding your refill request on a prescription that didn’t have any refills remaining, or
  3. A call to a patient letting her know the pharmacy doesn’t have the newly prescribed medication in stock today but will be available for pick up tomorrow afternoon.

When you see a pharmacist talking on the phone, you are likely witnessing one of the following:

  1. A call to the doctor’s office to clarify directions on a prescription or make recommendations for a better treatment option;
  2. A call with a patient to answer a medication-related question regarding a new prescription she recently started, or
  3. A call with another pharmacy getting the prescription transferred to their pharmacy so they can fill it for you.

When you see a pharmacy technician looking at the computer, you are likely witnessing one of the following:

  1. Order entry of the newly prescribed prescription the doctor sent over;
  2. Inventory look-up to see if the wholesaler carries a medication the doctor prescribed, or
  3. Research for patient assistance programs or drug manufacturer coupons to reduce your copay.

When you see a pharmacist looking at the computer, you are likely witnessing one of the following:

  1. Product verification of your prescription to ensure accuracy of order entry and fill;
  2. Research needed to ensure accuracy of the prescription’s dose or frequency based on the indication, or
  3. Additional research for a patient’s question regarding a prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal medication.

During Pharmacy Week, we show our gratitude and appreciation for all of the things pharmacy technicians and pharmacists do not only behind the counter but beyond the counter to provide excellent patient care. The pharmacy staff works hard to ensure timely delivery of medications to prevent delays in care. Several things must happen during the filling and dispensing process aside from counting out the tablets and applying the label to the bottle. The next time you visit your retail pharmacy, make sure you say Thank You to the staff behind the counter that are performing several tasks to prepare your prescriptions.

About the author:

Stephanie Hyslop, PharmD, MBA is a licensed pharmacist who received her PharmD from Purdue University in 2012 and her MBA from Butler University in 2020. Prior to joining Illuminate Health, Stephanie worked in both the retail and hospital settings for nearly 10 years. She has a passion for ensuring patients understand their medication regimens and the importance of taking their medications as directed. She strives to improve overall health outcomes for her patients, and her recent transition into the healthcare tech sector provides an innovative avenue to do such. Stephanie resides in Indianapolis with her husband Alan, son Amos, and beagle-mix Ernie.

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