More than 65% of Canadians and Americans over the age of 40 take one or more prescription medication. More than 18% take five or more. (CDC 2019) Taking multiple medications makes your medication management more intricate and puts you at a greater risk of complications.
Despite the risks, you might be surprised to find that your doctor may not always know all the medications you are on. If you have more than one healthcare provider who writes your prescriptions, for example a primary care provider and a cardiologist, you might assume that they share your health information. But that’s not always the case. Today’s electronic charting systems do make health information more available from office to office, but your doctors may use different systems that don’t share data.
So how do you know that your medication regime is safe? Because your pharmacist is on your side.
You may be used to seeing them behind the counter, preparing pills, but your pharmacist does so much more than dispense drugs.
Here are five reasons you need to know your pharmacist better:
- Medication counseling – Your pharmacist is a medication expert, after all. He or she can help you understand your medications better, explain how they work with your body, teach you how and when to take them, and counsel you about any special considerations, like possible side effects. If you are taking multiple medications, a pharmacist can recommend how to improve your medication regimen. They might even recommend different or fewer medications.
- Medication checks – Your pharmacist safeguards you from unintentional errors and interactions. When you fill a prescription, your pharmacist checks for interactions with other medications on your list and ensures that each medication is appropriate. When you fill all your medications at the same pharmacy, your pharmacist may be the only medical professional who knows exactly what medications you are on. If they find an error or question a prescription, they can call your doctor to discuss.
- Save money – Your pharmacist knows medication costs better than anyone and understands how those costs can add up when you’re taking multiple medications. If you’re concerned about cost, your pharmacist can help you find possible savings, like manufacturer discounts or savings programs. He or she may even suggest lower-cost medications than the ones you’re on.
- Recommend pharmacy services – Your pharmacist can talk to you about different programs to help you manage your medications, like automatic refills and dose or prescription consolidation programs. They can also administer recommended vaccines.
- Health education – Your pharmacist knows more than just medications. They can also share information about disease prevention, nutrition, quitting smoking, managing diabetes, and more. They can answer your questions about supplements and over-the-counter medications as well.
Your pharmacist is one of the most knowledgeable healthcare providers you interact with and a valuable source of information and support. If you fill prescriptions monthly, you probably also see your pharmacist more than you do other healthcare providers. Next time you have a question about a prescription or related health issue, reach out to your pharmacist. They’re happy to help.