Pharmacists Urged to Improve Quality of Service

Keynote address puts responsibility on the individual pharmacist.


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan–”The most beneficial change arising from the current health care crisis is that more attention is being focused on the important role of the patient,” says Dorothy L. Smith, Pharm.D., President of Consumer Health Information Corporation.

Dr. Smith, whose keynote address initiated the recent Saskatchewan Pharmaceutical Association Conference, urged pharmacists to be more proactive and inform consumers of the types of services they are qualified to provide. This was the second of a two-part Jack L. Summers Memorial Lecture series motivating pharmacists to better serve the needs of their patients by providing more counseling services.

Dr. Smith’s presentation, “Crisis or Opportunity: It All Depends,” focused on the need for pharmacists to individually address the costly problems associated with medication noncompliance. “Pharmacists can significantly reduce overall health care costs by improving patient compliance and monitoring the patient throughout the therapy,” said Smith.

According to Smith, the United States pays an estimated $100 billion per year to treat the complications associated with noncompliance with prescription medicines. This includes not only additional medical care but also the costs associated with reduced productivity. “It costs more to treat the complications of noncompliance than it does to purchase the medications,” noted Smith.

“It is important for pharmacists to become active in health education programs in order to help set the standard for health education on medications,” says Smith. “It is more cost-effective to teach patients how to take their medications correctly than to continue to pay for the costly complications of noncompliance. Once consumers become aware of the value of personalized pharmacy services, they can become the profession’s strongest allies.”

With many corporate drug plan decision-makers, health insurance companies, and government officials searching for ways to reduce overall health care costs, Smith pointed out that most of their decisions are based upon the services these officials have personally received. With that in mind, Smith focused on the role of the individual pharmacist.

“The provincial and national pharmacy organizations can only provide leadership and represent the profession on a broad scale. They cannot greet your patients, take medication histories, counsel patients on the proper home management of the prescription medications, monitor clinical progress, advise patients on the most appropriate nonprescription product, or demonstrate how to use a home blood pressure kit,” explains Smith.

“Too many people look upon pharmacy as simply filling a prescription. This perception has to change. Pharmacists must ask themselves what they can do in their practices to reach the consumer. Consumer attitudes are important. Once consumers can be made strong allies of personalized pharmacy services, pharmacy will have a stronger case,” concludes Smith.

Sponsored by the University of Saskatchewan, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, the first Jack L. Summers Memorial Lectureship in Pharmacy was established in 1994 by former students, pharmacists and friends, to honor the memory of Professor Emeritus Jack Leslie Summers. In addition, the first of the two-part Jack L. Summers Memorial Lecture series targeted consumers and focused on helping the public better understand the critical role they have in their own drug therapy.