The Pharmacist-Physician Relationship

Can you imagine having a meaningful relationship with someone you have never met? Pretty hard to visualize, right? What about someone you only speak with online? Not impossible, but still seems like a stretch. Many people would agree – but statistics contradict. Nowadays, more than one third of married couples met online1, and over 59% of Americans agree that online dating is a good way to meet people2.

Point being: it is possible to begin AND build a relationship when little or no face to face interaction has happened.

You might be asking yourself, “Why is this person writing about online dating on a pharmacy blog?” and that is a great question! How do online relationships apply to pharmacists? Why would pharmacists have to worry about building a relationship with someone that they may have never met?

There may be a few answers that come to mind, but I’m thinking of one in particular: the physician-pharmacist relationship.

Why Does It Matter?

Fact: patients rely on their pharmacists for medication guidance. Fact: patients rely on their physicians for medication guidance. These details are not mutually exclusive, although they often create tension.

Due to the current regulations around pharmacists prescribing power, the pharmacist-physician relationship is a massively critical symbiotic relationship. Pharmacists rely on physicians to provide their patients with the prescriptions for helpful medications, and physicians rely on the pharmacists to ensure that their patients are receiving the treatments that they need.

But the patient trusts both of their healthcare providers to make life-saving decisions on their behalf, so the necessity for a stable working relationship is paramount.

What’s the Problem?

The glum reality is, many pharmacist-physician relationships are feeble, at best. At worst, they are entirely tumultuous. Even a Public Health Report article written back in 1961 concludes that this relationship “has always been ambivalent and unstable.” 3

Why is this so? You probably have a lot of responses. Statistically speaking, both pharmacists and physicians agree that there is not enough time to work collaboratively4. Many informal medical blog articles also suggest that there are often disagreements for what is the best method of patient care, and miscommunication when addressing these concerns.

Yet all these studies, articles, and opinion pieces conclude the same thought: both the pharmacist and physician agree that their relationship is paramount in the patient care process. So what are we to do?

What’s the Solution?

I wish I could offer you more hours in the day. A Time-Turner, as it would be called for you Harry Potter fans out there. But what is available to you is technology.

We’ve already discussed the possibilities that can happen if your pharmacy were to utilize every bit of technology at its fingertips  – but how can it help here?

Digital Faxing

Good old-fashioned faxes are just that: good, but old fashioned. If this is your primary source of communication, you may want to consider switching it up.

Utilizing your Patient Engagement Center (PEC) is a quick and easy way to send faxes digitally to any of your patient’s physicians. These documents will also have all the relevant patient information pre-populated, so that can save you tons of time!

Think Outside the Box

Additionally, technology can help you get organized. The main reason cited for poor collaboration in health is a lack of time.

Getting organized helps pharmacies create more time. PrescribeWellness software solutions offers pharmacies the opportunity to own their workflow, and be more proactive about their task management, rather than being reactive.

Be a Team Player

If you ever need a little reminder to the impact your profession makes: think of your patients! Patients LOVE their community pharmacists! (5) The whole reason you are communicating with physicians in the first place is because a patient essentially brought you together. The patient likely did not go to Medical school, and relies on both you and the physician to make decisions that will impact their life. Although interactions with prescribers may not be your favorite part of your day, they are vastly important. These patients need their medical professionals to be on their team!

  1. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/one-third-u-s-marriages-start-online-dating-study-article-1.1362743
  2. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/5-facts-about-online-dating/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1929840/?page=1
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734911/
  5. http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2015-us-pharmacy-study


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